View Full Version : Bourbon Whiskey King Kamehameha

08-18-2006, 12:59

Recently, I have seen a picture with a bottle of an Hawaiian Bourbon Whiskey with the name King Kamehameha. Has anybody ever heart of this whiskey?


08-18-2006, 15:08
I have heard of the king, but not the whiskey.


08-18-2006, 17:33
Are you by any chance also known as "Mr. Bourbon" over at the Tiki Central site (http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=20692&forum=10&6)?

If not, then there are two dogs on the scent.

Here (http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=5968&forum=10&start=15&48)someone named Kono claims to have one.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

08-19-2006, 05:26
Yes, if have posted there under this name because webfreak wasn't be available. In that forum I got the tip to post my question in this forum.

Nevertheless, currently without any success.

Someone has seen a bottle of this whiskey in Japan. Unfortunately, the shop wasn't open. Therefore, he only took a photo an sent it to me.

Now I trie to find this whiskey as hard as possible ...


08-19-2006, 05:33

I try to post the label of this bottle. Perhaps, somebody has an idea where to look for this kind of whiskey ...



08-19-2006, 05:58
This is certainly very interesting. I don't think anyone here was aware bourbon whiskey was (is still?) produced in Hawaii.

Could this be a bottle from the 1970's or earlier when such whiskey was still made there?

If this bourbon is still produced in Hawaii, what is the name of the distiller, surely it must appear on the label? A web search might reveal further information, e.g., is this a new microdistiller? Or is it a longstanding company that has not been noticed previously by those here?


08-19-2006, 06:30

unfortunately, I don't have more information than I have posted. On the label is neighter a hint of the distillery nor of the time when this whiskey was produced? Perhaps, it could be a fake in Japan but it isn't really probable. A web search using different search engines hasn't been successful ...


08-19-2006, 06:52
Thanks, I searched too and did not find anything specific. I did locate an article in Honolulu Advertiser. In short, a new joint venture is putting out (or will soon) a version of the traditional native spirit of Hawaii (I can't recall the name and it is hard to spell!). It seems a starchy root and other fermentables enter into its composition.

The company that is making it is a joint venture of a gentleman called Thompson, who formerly was a senior executive at Brown-Forman (which makes bourbon and Jack Daniels) and a company called Le Veque which is a California wine and spirits distributor. Le Veque according to the report bought in the mid-1980's a distiller in Hawaii called Hawaii Distillers. That company from the mid-70's on also made a version of the traditional Hawaii spirit but its production ceased a while ago. The new recipe being made or to be made by the joint venture (I am not clear if production has started) is said to be more authentic than Hawaii Distillers' 1970's-era version. The story pictured Mr. Thompson next to a shiny small copper still which looks like a pot still.

I am wondering if maybe this joint venture may be making the King Kamehemha bourbon. Or maybe it was a product of Hawaii Distillers (either before or after its sale in 1987) and bottles are still around. The news story did not speak of bourbon.

Anyway both the Hawaii native spirit (to be sold in two different strengths) and this bourbon sound very interesting. I would like to sample them both.


08-19-2006, 07:01
It could also be one of those "for export only" brands.
It was mentioned that it was seen only in Japan.

08-19-2006, 07:06
Might it be 'okolehao', or Hawaiian 'whiskey' -- distilled from 25% ti root, 20% rice and 55% cane sugar?
Here's a Kamehameha decanter (sixth item down):

and here's a story about a distiller who planned to reignite distilling a few years ago:

I've seen a handful of bottles of this stuff come up occasionally on eBay, but haven't paid a lot of attention to them. Sure enough, there's (an empty) one there now:
http://cgi.ebay.com/KING-KAMEHAMEHA-OKOLEHAO-FIGURAL-HAWAIIAN-KING-BOTTLE_W0QQitemZ290020549569QQihZ019QQcategoryZ200 1QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Oops, never mind:skep: -- just saw your label pic. I wonder if that's from the Sandwich Islands Distilling which planned the new okolehao release.

08-19-2006, 07:47
The Advertiser story and Sandwich Islands Distilling are the news article and joint venture I was referring to. The report, I see now, goes back to 2003, did this business get off the ground? I don't know. I couldn't find a website for the company but that doesn't mean it isn't in operation.

I would think though the bourbon in question was made either by the old Hawaiin Distillers, or by that company after its purchase by Le Veque, or by Sandwich Island Distillers. Straight bourbon can be only 2 years old if the label states such, maybe it was made between 2003 and now.

The decanters you found Tim for the okolehao (the name by the way is clearly a variant pronunciation of the word "alcohol") are for the okolehao that was produced by Hawaiin Distillers. Since it used the name Kamehameha as a trade name and that is the name of the bourbon, this leads me to think that Hawaiin Distillers or one of its successors also made bourbon under that name.

I should say though the King Kamehameha bourbon label refers to bourbon "produced" at the finest distillery in Hawaii. It doesn't say distilled. While produced suggests distilled, I wonder if the spirit might have been made in Kentucky and possibly just bottled in Hawaii, or maybe it was aged for a time in wood in Hawaii.

If distilled in Hawaii at some point since the 1970's, this is the first bourbon made by a new company since the 1950's.

I wonder if Koji has any information.


08-19-2006, 22:06
Everyone is thinking too hard. The key words are "Someone has seen a bottle of this whiskey in Japan." That means it could be anything made anywhere. I'm not really familiar with Japan's "standards of identity" regulations for, in this case, bourbon, but my sense is that a lot of the labeling of spirits products in Japan is dubious. If someone knows the Japanese regulatory regime for such things, I would love to be educated.

In India, for example, most of the products labeled "whiskey" are not even made from grain, they are made from sugar cane. They are called "whiskey" because they are flavored and colored to resemble whiskey and either there are no laws regarding this practice, or there are but enforcement is lax. That doesn't prove anything about Japan, I know, but my impression is that matters in Japan are similar.

The United States has "distinctive product" agreements with Canada, Mexico and the EU, but I am not aware of any such agreements with Japan.

Why would someone create a bourbon for Japan with a Hawaiian theme? I don't know, but I do know that ethnic Japanese outnumber both native Hawaiians and European-Americans in Hawaii, so it might be related to that.

08-21-2006, 12:05
Additionally, I can read "Old Style, Sour Mash" on the top of the bottle.

I can't really believe that this could be a "Japanese creation" of a Bouron Whiskey.


08-28-2006, 09:52
Apparently the 'finest distillery in Hawaii' is in Bardstown. I just heard from someone at Heaven Hill that it's one of theirs.

08-28-2006, 10:20
The key I guess was the use of "produced at" not "distilled at" on the label...


08-28-2006, 20:03
I still think it's kind of odd, but my source didn't offer any details.

12-19-2006, 06:34
Hi. New to this debate, but I actually have a bottle of the King Kamehameha. It says that it's 43% (86 proof) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, distilled and bottled by Anderson Club Distilling Co, in Bardstown, Kentucky. It also says it is 6 years old. And that it is the "same famous formula since 1788".
I stumbled on this topic as I was curious about the company. What other brands do they make? It's not an outstanding whiskey, but not bad either. Can anyone quench my curiosity?

12-19-2006, 08:51
Thanks for this and that settles that this bottling at least was distilled in Kentucky. I would think Heaven Hill may be the source.


12-19-2006, 08:59
Apparently the 'finest distillery in Hawaii' is in Bardstown. I just heard from someone at Heaven Hill that it's one of theirs.

I couldn't find Bardstown on my map of Hawaii......

12-19-2006, 20:51
Anderson Club Distilling Co. is one of the literally hundreds of "doing business as" (dba) names Heaven Hill uses. Other distilleries do the same thing. Typically when they buy a brand, they will obtain and continue to use the business name of the former producer.

You can look up this sort of thing on the web site of the Kentucky Secretary of State (www.sos.ky.gov/). There isn't a lot of information, but you can learn a few things. For example, I just learned that HH has used that particular dba since 1978.

You can also see Trey Grayson's smiling face.