When in Hawaii, a young man’s thoughts typically turn to rum, not whiskey. Yet here we are, sipping a blended whiskey made in the only distillery on the island of Oahu.
Ko’olau Distillery’s Old Pali Road Whiskey uses locally-grown corn to make a “bourbon-style base” for its mash. This is distilled and then blended with sourced, four-year-old mystery American whiskey and, finally, proofed with local water. Batches are small, limited to 1800 bottles each.
It’s a lightly-hued whiskey, with a nose to match. A bit doughy and heavy with notes of cereal and buttered popcorn, the whiskey offers aromas of roasted peanuts, caramel corn, and a modest dusting of spice. It’s light and youthful, coming across largely like a young yet indistinct bourbon that still has a bit of raw heat to it.
The palate follows in close lockstep, offering a simple, peanut-laden sweetness that slowly fades into notes of brown butter and Bit-O-Honey candies. It’s sweeter than I was expecting, which helps cut through some of the more immature alcohol notes, though that pinch of sugar doesn’t overly elevate the experience beyond the basics. The whiskey ends up concluding with a simplicity that doubles down on peanut notes but finishes fairly clean — enough so to make me dream of a pina colada, frankly.
86 proof. Reviewed: Batch #2.
B- / $60 / koolaudistillery.com