Kohana Rum

Located In the small town of Kunia in central Oahu, Manulele Distillers, Inc. is producing some incredible Hawaiian agricole rums from locally grown sugarcane.  Their brand name, Ko Hana, is Hawaiian for "working cane" which is an accurate description of what their rums are all about.  They grow 34 varieties of rare Hawaiian heirloom sugarcane on-site and harvest it by hand using machetes.  Manulele Distillers also is home to one of the largest aquaponic farms on the island which produces 5,000 heads of lettuce weekly.

Ko Hana is an agricole rum, meaning it is produced by distilling freshly pressed sugarcane juice, rather than molasses.  Agricole rums have a very different taste than molasses rums - they have more of an earthy, grassy flavor.  Many companies produce agricole rums (particularly in the French West Indies), but what makes Ko Hana unique is that they only use one variety of sugarcane in each batch of rum.  That means they can produce up to 34 different varieties of base rum!

The distillery tour starts with a sample of sugarcane juice, which is freshly pressed right into your glass. Next, you will see samples of all 34 varieties of sugarcane growing in a small garden outside the distillery as well as their large aquaponic farm.  The tour continues past the fermentation and distillation room and to the aging room, where a small number of various types of barrels are working their magic into a wide variety of base rums.  The tour concludes with a rum tasting which includes a souvenir tasting glass.

During our visit, we tasted each of the four KEA (White) rums that were available, as well as the barrel-select aged KOHO and the cacao and honey infused KOKOLEKA rums.  The different sugarcane varieties produce very different flavor profiles in each KEA rum, from sweet and grassy to subtly floral to slightly earthy.  Just as with the KEA, each batch of KOHO is unique and complex due to the variances of cane variety, barrel type, and length of aging.  The KOKOLEKA rum is a decadent sipping rum reminiscent of coffee-infused dark chocolate.

Each visit to Manulele Distillers will be unique since they are always producing different products, and not all rum varieties are available at all times.  The cask-strength KOA rum was unavailable during our visit, but that gives us another reason to return.    Prior to purchasing your tour tickets, be sure to check Groupon for discounts.  Also, ask the distillery about shipping options to your home address because this can save a little money and a lot of hassle versus transporting it in your luggage.

Manulele Distillers

Check out the Manulele Distillers website for more information about their products and to schedule a tour of the distillery:

Local Attractions

Waikiki Beach


One of the most famous spots on Oahu is Waikiki Beach. There are endless shops and restaurants, but one of the most unique areas is the International Marketplace.  Originally opened in 1956 and renovated in 2016, it features a 60 foot tall banyan tree in the center which was the former home of Don the Beachcomber's Tree House.  Enjoy a cocktail on the beach at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (the Pink Palace of the Pacific), a historic property which opened in 1927, or catch a ride on the seemingly endless waves.

Pearl Harbor


The surprise attack that occurred at Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941 led to the United States' entry into World War II.  Here you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial and the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument to learn about what happened on that fateful day. You can step aboard the USS Missouri battleship to explore the bridge and crew's quarters, get an up-close view of the ship's massive guns, and stand on the very spot where the treaty to end WWII was signed.  Take the brief shuttle ride over to Ford Island and the Pacific Aviation Museum, to see several hangers (including one still riddled with bullet holes from the 1941 attack) and authentic WWII-era airplanes.  Then there is the USS Bowfin submarine, known as the Pearl Harbor Avenger, where you can experience what it was like to live and work on a sub. 

North Shore


Although it is home to some of the biggest and most famous waves on the planet, the North Shore remains a somewhat sleepy locale with food trucks and beach shacks instead of gourmet restaurants and luxury mega-resorts. The beaches and surf breaks are easy to access from Kamehameha Highway, but beware of traffic in the winter during surfing competitions as there is only one lane in each direction.  Summer is much quieter with small waves and excellent snorkeling, and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) can be spotted here year-round. 

Diamond Head


Another famous landmark is Diamond Head State Monument, an extinct volcanic cone which can be explored with a short but steep 1.5 hour round trip hike. The well-maintained trail includes numerous sets of stairs that will take you to the summit at 761 feet above sea level, with stunning views of Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean. 

Kualoa Ranch


Known as Hollywood's "Hawaii Backlot", Kualoa Ranch has been used in many feature films and television shows, such as the Jurassic Park films, 50 First Dates, Lost, and Hawaii Five-0.  They offer a variety of sight-seeing and adventure tours including movie sites, a catamaran boat tour, ATV tours, and horseback riding.  After your tour, stop into Aunty Pat's Café for lunch featuring meat and produce that are grown on-site