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Ko’olau Distillery Launches Old Pali Road Whiskey, One of the First Hawaiian Whiskeys

When you think about Hawaii, you’re probably not thinking about whiskey, but it’s safe to say that the people who live in Hawai’i are thinking about whiskey.

Why wouldn’t you? Perfect beaches, perfect weather — it needs a perfect dram of whiskey from time to time. Known more for their rum and beer (and those aforementioned paradisiacal vistas), one distillery is working to stake a claim as the best Hawaiian whiskey on the market.

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Ko’olau Distillery, in Kailua on the island of Oahu, has just released its first whiskey, Old Pali Road Whiskey. The spirit is made from a bourbon-style recipe with locally-grown corn. It is then blended with  4-year-old American whiskey and pure Ko’olau water. According to the brand (and Hawaiian legend), “The gods reside in the ever-present mist where the Ko’olau Mountains meet the heavens. Tropical rainfall from that mist falls and is filtered for generations through volcanic rock to become pure artesian water which is the source used to create this unique whiskey.”

“Making Whiskey, and more specifically good whiskey, is a challenge. Ian and I are both goal-oriented people but to describe us as challenge-oriented may be a more precise description.  So this enterprise is right in line with our personalities,”  Ko’olau Distillery Co-Founder Lieutenant Colonel Eric Dill said in a statement. His co-founder, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Brooks are both United States Marine Corps veterans.

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While they are not the first Hawaiian whiskey, they are only one of less than a handful. Ala Wai Whisky in Honolulu produces whiskeys, though according to their store, they are sold out of just about all of their iterations, none of which had more than 20 bottles. Paniolo Whiskey is another Hawaiian product, produced by Hali’imaile Distillery in Makawao on the island of Maui and is made with a blend of whiskies from around the world as well as Hawaiian ingredients, including pineapple that’s been distilled to neutral

The first run of Old Pali Road Whiskey is limited to 1800 bottles and will be available in select bars and retail outlets throughout Hawai’i. On their website, a 750mL bottle is selling for $60.

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
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