Hawaiian Rum Agricole Shootout

“Hawaiian Rum Agricole”

The term is intended to help consumers understand that these rums are made from sugar cane juice, not molasses, and so have a different taste from most rums in the marketplace. Though, “agricole” is very much a loaded and controversial term since many people feel it should only apply to AOC Rhum Agricole made in French islands such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. The Hawaiian distillers I do believe respect where those producers are coming from and do attempt to forge a middle-ground by using the term “Hawaiian Rum Agricole”, though the “rum not rhum” distinction seems like the smallest of differences.

In any case, I picked up a bottle of Kō Hana Kea and decided to do a blind taste test against Kuleana’s Hawaiian Rum Agricole and a bottle of Rhum JM from Martinique. It was quite easy to taste the grassier flavors of the JM, which I do enjoy in cocktails. But to me the two Hawaiian rums had a deeper set of flavors and both had a richer mouthfeel and had a nice mix of sweet and savory notes. In terms of the blind test I leaned a little bit in favoring the Kuleana – but it was quite a close contest. Both do very well in a glass by themselves or in a cocktail, and I previously covered how I think the Kuleana works great as an accept rum with others inside a Mai Tai.

The two rums from Hawai’i are really great and I think that it is wonderful to see a burgeoning rum industry coming back in the state. Kuleana’s expression doesn’t specify a specific cane varietal, whereas Kō Hana very much leans into labeling the various varietals with their bottlings. Two different approaches for the two producers, giving consumers a choice.

Deck

We have to thank Christa for the tip on Deck, a restaurant and bar located at the far end of Waikiki on the 3rd floor pool deck at the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel. This was around the corner from Tiki’s and proved to be an elevated cocktail experience.

The Mai Tai is a ’44 made with three rums from local favorites KōHana. This superior Mai Tai allowed the rum blend to shine brightly and lets you savor the unique taste of these Hawaiian Agricole rums. Really great.

Mrs. Mai Tai ordered the R&R, which is a Gin cordial with raspberry and thyme, topped with soda. Quite interesting and refreshing. We also tried their Basque Cheesecake which was just right for desert, and quite good.

Our service at Deck was great, and we appreciate the host who sat us in quieter portion of the restaurant rather than at the bar where there was a lot of hooting and hollering. Quite a nice place to relax, and during daylight hours there’s a fabulous view of Diamond Head.

Best Mai Tai of AZ Tiki Oasis

Not a lot of Mai Tais on premises but I had an amazing Mai Tai at the seminar “Rum, the Spirit of Hawai’i: Crafting tiki cocktails with island style rum with Gabrielle Maser.” See the recipe in photo 2.



The Mai Tai really highlighted the savory notes from the Kuleana Hawaiian Rum Agricole that goes into the Hui Hui blend. The rich MacNut Orgeat added a nice taste and some rich mouthfeel.

The seminar was a great opportunity to see how some various producers are approaching spirits production in Hawai’i. I have definitely enjoyed Kuleana’s rums and dug the gin from Kupu spirits, sampled here as well.

One of the best Mai Tais I’ve had this year.

Straw from @surfsidesips