37: All About the Kō: Making Hawaiian Rum with Single Sugarcane Varietals (with Kyle Reutner of Kō Hana Distillers)


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In this episode, we talk to Kyle Reutner of Kō Hana Distillers about the Hawaii distillery’s approach to making fresh sugarcane juice rum from heirloom Hawaiian sugarcane varietals. We go deep into:

How sugarcane’s journey to and role in Hawaii differs from other places around the world

Why Kō Hana is focusing exclusively on single cane varietals in their rum

The distillery’s production process (and how it’s designed to isolate the sugarcane as the key variable outside of time and location)

The differences between heirloom sugarcane varietals and sugarcane that was used for modern sugar refining before the decline of Hawaii’s sugar industry

The challenges of creating aged rums that highlight the sugarcane rather than obscuring it

What the future of Hawaiian rum as a category looks like

Kō Hana’s place in the larger category of sugarcane juice rums around the world

And more!

Links to Explore After Listening:

Check out Kō Hana’s website here

Book Recommendation: Kō: An Ethnobotanical Guide to Hawaiian Sugarcane Cultivars by Dr. Noa Kekuewa Lincoln

Book Recommendation: From King Cane to the Last Sugar Mill: Agricultural Technology and the Making of Hawaii's Premier Crop by C. Allan Jones and Robert V. Osgood

77 episodes