Seriously Vodka from Pineapples?

If you are travelling to Maui than do not miss an upcountry excursion and tasting at Haliimaile Distilling Company This tour highlights the history of Haliimaile which means covered in vines, the vines Maile were originally only worn by Hawaiian Royalty but our now commonly used in lei’s. I thoroughly enjoyed the local culture included in this tour, it gave it a truly Hawaiian feel.

The most interesting part about this distillery is that the Pau vodka and most of the other spirits are produced using pineapple distillate. As this distillate is filtered and processed it goes through several stages and the end product has no pineapple taste and becomes a clean base for the Pau vodka, The Maui Moon flavoured vodkas and the Paniolo blended whiskeys.

Mark Nigbur is the master distiller originally from Colorado and is known for his innovation of self designed  and engineered stills. The still in the middle will be used for their new Fid Street Gin. I was fortunate to sample this prior to my tour at Haliimaile Distilling Company as they had already sold out of the first production run. I sampled it at the Maui Tropical Plantation in the Millhouse restaurant and absolutely fell in love with this gin. It has a hint of lavender, plenty of juniper and a very clean finish. If like me you like a dry savoury versus sweet gin this one will not disappoint. As you can see below it has 11 botanicals that give it a complex yet perfectly balanced flavour.

The tour is very informative and rewards you with a taste of the raw sugar they use in the pineapple distillate that begins with the pineapple mash as seen below. If you have ever wanted to learn the steps to producing vodka or blended whiskey do not miss this tour as it is one of the best tours I have done.

The tour completes with a tasting , where you get the option of choosing three spirits, which is the hard part as they have a huge number on offer.

I began with the Pau Vodka which was clean with a hint of nut and no hint of pineapple. This vodka would be the perfect base for martinis, blended drinks or chilled and in Russian style consumed neat.

Next as I am a huge fan of kentucky bourbon I had to try the Paniolo blended whiskey. This is a newer product and is in honour of the Hawaiian cowboy (paniolo). The funky handle bar moustache label comes from the tattoo artist that designed the label who also happens to sport a rather impressive or so I was told handlebar moustache. This whiskey could rival the best on the market, it is a perfect blend of Heaven Hills Kentucky Bourbon and the pineapple distillate. On the nose it is malt, vanilla and cola, that follows through in the glass with a slight brown sugar finish. Perfectly balanced and smooth enough to have neat or on ice. I cannot wait to use this in an old fashioned as yes this followed me home.

My last tasting was The Brown Sugar Whiskey. On the nose it is fresh made pancakes with butter and maple syrup. In the glass it is brown sugar on warm porridge with a hint of fresh cream and vanilla. This whiskey would be fantastic over fresh made vanilla bean ice cream, or drizzled over a warm brownie . Sadly Canada only allowed me to bring back one and the Paniolo Blended Whiskey won.

Next visit I will have to try the Maui Moon flavoured vodkas if for no other reason than the very funky glass Tiki bottle it comes in.