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.