Hawaii November 20, 2018
This Moonshine Tasting Room In Hawaii Is One Hidden Speakeasy You’ll Want To Tour
You’ve surely heard of moonshine before, right? These high-proof distilled spirits typically produced illicitly without government authorization are most often associated with the Appalachian region of America, but many people are unaware that the Hawaiian Islands are home to their own, one-of-a-kind moonshine known as Okolehao. And one of the few places you can still find this unique spirit is Island Distillers, a small little speakeasy-style operation nestled in Hawaii Kai.
A lightly sweet, smooth, and super potent liquor, this Hawaiian moonshine, as so many affectionately call it, is so good that it has been banned
twice in the islands.
Okolehao is made out of fermented juice from the root of the ti plant, a "canoe plant" brought to the islands centuries ago that has been used to make leis, plates, sandals, and even medicine. This starchy root is similar to a sweet potato and Okolehao might just be the quirkiest artisanal liquor you’ll ever taste.
Though okolehao started out as a beer-like beverage, when western explorers brought the technique of distilling to the islands in the late 1700s, the Hawaiians ran with it.
Ti roots, which can weigh as much as 300 pounds, were chopped up and steamed in an underground oven before being placed in iron pots to distill the root.
Okolehao was first outlawed by King Kamehameha in 1818 and then again a century later by the American government. Bootleggers retreated to Hawaii’s untouched land to set up their stills, though, by the 1970s, the spirit had largely disappeared.
Today, there are only a few distillers making Okolehao, and you can visit one of them right here on Oahu.
Situated at the base of the Koko Crater, Island Distillers creates a unique Okolehao made from ti roots and sugar cane utilizing a recipe David Flinstone created based on his analysis of old newspaper clips and interviews that he translated from the Hawaiian language and studied.
The result is a potent, 100-proof drink with an elusive sweetness that many say is as close to traditional Okolehao as it gets.
Enthusiastically welcomed by locals and tourists alike, alcohol connoisseurs will want to visit Island Distillers’ tasting room as soon as possible.
Surrounded by flourishing banana trees and mature sugar cane fields, many people have no idea this hidden tasting room even exists.
Not only is Island Distillers one of the only producers of Okolehao in the entire world, but it’s Honolulu’s oldest distillery.
You’ll find more than just Hawaiian Moonshine at Island Distillers, though. They also create unique vodkas and rums under the Hapa Brand (meaning part Hawaiian). From chili pepper and coconut infused vodka to traditional vodka, there’s something for everyone to love here.
What are you waiting for? Book a 1-hour tour and tasting for $10 per person, where you will learn all about how these world-renowned liquours are made and taste them for yourself.
Island Distillers is located at 577 Pakala St., Honolulu, HI 96825, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit their
website or follow them on Facebook.
If you prefer wine over spirits, you’ll love visiting
The Remote Winery In Hawaii That’s Picture Perfect For A Day Trip.