View Full Version : Okolehao in Hawaii?

11-14-2012, 10:02
Traveling to Hawaii for a brief visit to the in-laws over the holidays and was curious if there was a chance in hell of finding real Ti plant based Okolehao whilst there. I know a rum distillery (http://www.haleakaladistillers.com/5052.html) on Maui was making a quasi okolehao liqueur at one point but don't know if even that is still available. Would really prefer the genuine stuff if it can be found at a reasonable price but I don't think it has been around for a couple of decades.

Welcome any insight from Hawaii SBer's or others that might be familiar with what can be found there. Figured I would start with the boutique The Liquor Collection store in Ward Warehouse and/or Tamura's and see if they have any ideas.

11-14-2012, 10:56
I have been researching okolehao for a little while so I will help you out as best as I can here.

The rum distillery you are referring to does make an okolehao liqueur in small amounts and it can still be found from time to time. Last I saw Liquor Collection did have some bottles. They may also have mini's if you just want to try it. While it isn't the traditional beverage, to their credit they do use actual Ti root and they are keeping the name okolehao alive. Few people in Hawaii even know what it is and the old timers that do have forgotten what is tastes like, at least the one's that I have talked to. There is a vodka distillery on Oahu that is planning on making a real Okolehao though I don't know the timeline for it. Maybe someone can do a TTB search and find it(I don't know how). Other then that it has not been made legally in decades and even then the authenticity of it was questionable. The only way to get some real stuff is to find someone that still makes it today (hard to do) or find someone that has a stash that there ancestors made (good luck prying it from their cold dead hands). I do have some contacts and will make some queries into it. I will pm you if I find anything. If you are going to be on Oahu maybe we can meet for a pour.

12-23-2012, 00:22
Just thought I would follow up on this topic if anyone is interested. Today while scouring Facebook I found a post from the liquor collection on ward ave. They hada post that said okolehao was in. It is made by the vodka distillery on Oahu. The distillers website is hawaiianvodka.com. I will be picking up a bottle when I can and will put tasting notes up later.

12-23-2012, 08:15
I think it's great that Hawaiian distillers are trying to continue this heritage but based on the website it looks like the vodka distillery's product is similar to the rum distillery's - distilled from sugar cane.

Hopefully the day will come before long when there is a product available distilled from Ti plant.

12-23-2012, 08:17
o&c I notice their website lists a moonshine made from sugar cane juice. Does it taste like rum?

12-23-2012, 08:45
If you look closely at the description at the bottom of the bottle it says that it is sugar cane spirit with Ti root so they are using it. Traditional moonshiners that made okolehao almost always used other fermentables with the Ti root like sugar, pineapple, rice or breadfruit. Reason being is that pure Ti root okolehao is some pretty powerful stuff. It will grow hair on your chest. As far as taste goes the only time I tried a moonshine version of okolehao it had a taste of strong rum and tequila mixed together. I am not sure how this one tastes but I am excited to get a bottle. Stay tuned.

12-23-2012, 09:14
When you mentioned distilling in Hawaii I immediately thought of rum.

12-23-2012, 10:16
I should also mention that the difference between the two products is that the rum distillery make a liqueur while the product from the vodka distiller is not. It is strictly a distilled product that is closer to true okolehao then the liqueur is.

12-24-2012, 19:40
Just picked up a bottle of the new "Hawaiian Moonshine" today at Tamura's in Kaimuki. The place was hopping! Probably won't get to it until I return home though as there aren't many whiskey drinkers to speak of besides me here in the house.

I decided against the liqueur for now but will probably go back and get that too.

Picture worked after all if sideways. The bottle is a bit like a clay jug (painted glass?). Diamond Head slumbers in the background.

12-25-2012, 02:37
What was the damage on that bottle? I know the distiller sells it on his website for $34. He only delivers outside the state of Hawaii though.

12-26-2012, 02:32
What was the damage on that bottle? I know the distiller sells it on his website for $34. He only delivers outside the state of Hawaii though.

I believe it was $28.99 plus tax so about $30.35 I think.

01-04-2013, 21:45
Sat down with my newly acquired bottles of Okolehao and Okolehao liqueur, both of which survived the trip home in my luggage along with a handful of other bottles rescued from the liquor cabinet of my fiances mother.


Both products are based on a "cane based" spirit. Not that surprising given it is Hawaii and the Maui distillery features rum (I haven't had any of the rum either). The other distillery is on Oahu and makes vodka and coconut flavored vodka which I have also not tried.

The Hawaiian "moonshine" is 100 proof and comes in a distinctive bottle with a Grolsch style cap while the liqueur is 80 proof and in a basic green wine bottle with a cork stopper.

Decided to start with the lower proof liqueur which poured a light straw color with a nose of rum and coconut. Taste was moderately sweet with the coconut flavor dominating everything rather like a typical coconut rum. Not unpleasant but not particularly unique.

The Moonshine was clear and presumably was a white dog like spirit with no aging at all. The initial nose was all alcohol which was not particularly encouraging. But the first sip was much better with a little burn but a nice vegetal quality, a unique flavor and little or no coconut smell or taste. It was perhaps closer to a tequila than a rum to me.

I have no idea what ti root is supposed to taste like although there are a number of ti plants here in the house so I suppose I could gnaw on one and see! Nor did I ever have the opportunity to taste the original okolehao from 30 or 40 years ago. But this seemed more like what I was expecting and I would choose this one over the other without question.

Seems like it could even potentially benefit from a little aging to try to mellow it out a bit as I have heard was done in the past. I emailed the producer to see if that is being contemplated at all but given it is new that is probably not a priority at the moment.

Not likely to be a regular pour but it is a fun novelty to share at future parties.