THE PINEAPPLE OF MY EYE

When my husband and I visited Maui this summer, we had the opportunity to learn about many of its local agricultural endeavors. As soon as I discovered that artisans were creating delicious liquor from pineapples, I needed to know more immediately.

The first stop was Pau Maui Vodka. Located in the heart of Maui’s pineapple region, Pau Maui’s producers, Hali‘imaile Distilling Company, create handcrafted, authentic Hawaiian spirits with a goal of capturing “Hawaii in a Bottle.” They start with local ingredients and distill it in small batches, and mix the final product with fresh spring water. Hali‘imaile also makes Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, Paniolo Whiskey and Maui Moon Vodka.

Before I had my first sip (straight up!), I was expecting the overwhelming sweetness of a product that is made from the sugary goodness of a pineapple. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that, while more sweet than bitter, the real pleasure came in the aftertaste. The sweet undertones definitely were present and appreciated, but not overpowering or unnatural like you might find in a flavored vodka.

Sipping vodka isn’t usually my style — though I truly did not mind it in this case! — so I would recommend mixing Pau Maui with fresh pineapple juice or POG for a delightfully refreshing afternoon cocktail.

The second discovery I made was Ulupalakua Vineyards, makers of Maui Wine, nestled on 23 beautiful acres on the slope of Haleakala volcano. Maui’s only winery began in 1974 and now distributes to 18 states and four countries around the globe.

Maui Wine makes three types of pineapple wines — Maui Blanc, Maui Splash and Hula O Maui, a sparkling wine.

Grown on the slopes of Upcountry Maui, the 100 percent Maui Gold pineapples used in the wines are handpicked, crushed and pressed on site.

To create my favorite, the Maui Splash, a typical pineapple harvest yields between 60,000 and 84,000 pounds of pineapple specifically selected from only fields that are best suited for the rich and fruity Maui Splash style. Next, the fresh pineapple juice is pumped into 4,000-gallon stainless steel tanks for a cool and steady fermentation over 14 days. Racking, filtration, aging and finishing take place over the next 12-16 weeks. At finishing, a little bit of passion fruit essence is added to create a fruity eruption. It’s the perfect refreshing treat for a relaxing day at the beach!

Delicious flavor, affordable pricing and supporting a local business? Make it a double!

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