Rums of Hawaii: Koloa Review

Fans of Tiki are all lovers of Hawaii even if we’ve never been there. It’s a beautiful exotic land that embodies that American ideal of discovery and adventure. While most Tiki drinks are actually based in the Caribbean I always like to look to the south seas for fruits, spices, and spirits to be used in drinks. That’s why I was very happy to learn of a rum grown and made in Hawaii. Luckily they were glad to hear from us to, what follows is a review of the bounty we were sent.


Impressions of White and Gold

Koloa White is a shy, somewhat subtle sip with a light nose vaguely reminiscent of fresh cut green wood with light notes of sugar. The taste continued to be balanced. The rum is neither to sweet or to dry.And the finish comes with a very minimal burn. The flavors of the cane sugar really come through with additional notes of white pepper and cilantro. It’s very nice in a daiquiri which all our tasted agreed upon.


Koloa Gold is likewise a demure maiden but not as much so as it’s sister. It has aromas of KoloaGoldcaramelized pineapple, citrus peel, and light brown sugar throughout. As one continues to sniff and sip I can even being to smell cocoa nibs at the finish. The rum maintains a nice balance again, never once do I find it sweet or cloying. It seems to slowly unfold into flavors of citrus and honey with a mildly burning cereal finish. I do often use gold rums in modified Daiquiri’s and greatly enjoyed this one in the same.


These are nice rums which I particularly single out for mixing. Try them in our Carioca Affair cocktail and a Carioca Hawaiian.


Dark Temptations

KoloKoloaDarka Dark is something I truly find to be exceptional and standout. It’s a rich affair that reminds me of Jamaican and Demerera rums I favor so much. The aroma is very breathtaking with creamy vanilla, rich molasses, and even I think touches of candied apricot. It has all the aroma of a fresh baked molasses cookie or rich brown sugar crème brulee. Koloa Dark has a lovely smokey, gun powdery twinge upfront like a good demerera rum. It then finishes with a balanced molasses and vanilla sweetness and a creamy body. One can easily see this substituted for the Jamaican rum in a classic Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, or in a nice tall Planter’s Punch. Honestly the only thing I dislike about this rum is that it’s relatively hard for me to find in stores. Hopefully that’s a problem easily solved.


To Coco or Nut to Coco?

Rarely does a spirit actually amaze me after training as a sommelier and chef. After tasting KoloaCoconuteverything I can get my hands on for 8 years my palate is pretty seasoned. Koloa Coconut really manages to surprise my taste buds despite this. It’s no secret here that we avoid the use of artificially flavored products if possible. However we do keep a smattering of flavored rums around to act as clear tropical liqueurs and modifiers. Coconut rum is always present because of our love for Jeff Berry’s Miehana cocktail. Why is Koloa’s Coconut rum so special? It actually tastes of real fresh coconut. The buttery, oily, natural flavors of meaty fresh white coconut meat are so vivid that the last time I can recall flavors so fresh is from a real green coconut. It’s aroma is enticing like you just hacked a fresh one open with a crude machete. Check out Jeff Berry’s Remixed and mix up a Miehana. This needs to be in your bar.



To me the greatest test for a blogger when reviewing is would they put their money where their mouth is and shell out greenbacks for the product in question. Rated R Cocktails is almost exclusively funded by yours truly doing whatever work I can get. So I know every dollar matters. In this case I answer yes I would pay the price. I would even cross a state line to grab these bottles. The Dark and Coconut are particular must haves for Tiki fans and get a big seal of approval from us. Mahalo to everyone at Koloa for the samples, keep up the great work. Expect to see cocktails featuring all of the above rums in the coming months and until next time…


You Get Hammered America!” – JFL



About JFL

Joey or JFL as he is known by friends is a culinary trained mixologist from the Heart of Dixie Birmingham, Alabama. From a weekly column in the St. Clair News Aegis to his own experiments online JFL never stops doing work on Tiki and Cocktails. When he's not studying all things spirit, wine, and beer he's pursuing his own odd interests such as cartoons, cheesy old horror movies, horror punk, hair metal, and hockey
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2 Responses to Rums of Hawaii: Koloa Review

  1. Adam Morel says:

    Looking for Koloa rums in Bham. Anywhere? Also, who has the best selection of rum in town – both retail and behind bar?

    Thanks for the assist!

    • JFL says:

      No go in bham I usually order mine online and have it sent to a Georgia relative. As far as Birmingham The answer to both is Lou’s pub.

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