Maui's own vodka distillery, Ocean Vodka, purchased and started an 80 acre organic farm on Maui last year. This family owned business has been making vodka in an industrial part of Kahului for the past 7 years or so, but have outgrown their facilities. This April they had the grand opening of their brand-new facility on Oma'opio Road (right next to the Surfing Goat Dairy).
CJ was our tour guide yesterday. As he showed us around the property (the nursery, sugar cane fields and then lastly the building itself), you couldn't help but hear the pride he has in this business. Their new building has enough photo-voltaic panels to produce double what their energy requirements are (the extra going back into the electric grid). They also have a 1300 ft well on property used for irrigation.
This family also strives to preserve many of the over 50 varieties of Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane plants.
|new factory, self-sufficient with photovoltaic energy panels and a 1300 ft deep well|
I learned that most of the commercially grown sugar cane on Maui is GMO, which produces the sugary syrup in its stalks between 18-24 months of age (at which point the whole plant is harvested by controlled burn).
|a few of the sugar cane stalks grown on their organic farm|
Ocean Vodka's sugar cane is non-GMO, meaning the plant will continue to produce sugary syrup in its stalks for 20-40 years. The mature stalks are harvested by hand while the plant continues to grow new shoots (this must be very labor intensive).
|Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane field with coconut tree mulch|
|resident rooster showing us the baby sugar cane plants in the nursery area|
What makes this vodka unique? It is certified 100% USDA organic, the only vodka in the world made from organic sugar cane. Ocean Vodka is also the only spirit in the world made with deep ocean mineral water (which is pumped from 3000 ft off the coast of Kona, Big Island).
|sacred Hawaiian sugar cane which used to be reserved for ali'i (chiefs') consumption|
I really enjoyed this tour - and went home to pour myself some Ocean Vodka. It is really good.
They offer tours 7 days a week, 5 times a day - just send them a quick email so they know to expect you.
Keep an eye out for it - Ocean Vodka is currently sold in 25 states and yes, also in 3 Canadian provinces. It is also the exclusive vodka served by Hawaiian Airlines since 2007.
Labels: Hawaiian food, life on Maui, made in Maui, Maui to-do