Our Story

LBD-14
Left to Right:  Operations Manager, Tai Erum, Owner, Les Drent, and Farm Manager, Trevyn Pless

If someone had asked me at the time I planted my first coffee tree on Kauai in 2001 if I would be growing tobacco and corn one day for fine cigars and bourbon, I would have laughed. After all, it had only been a few months since September 11, and I was neck deep in debt to a bank for my first small-farm development. At the time, I wondered whether the tourists would even be visiting Kauai after the events of that tragic day.

However, since 1993, the year I roasted my first Kona coffee bean, I have prided myself on taking calculated risks and employing as much ingenuity as possible to beat the odds and succeed as an entrepreneur in Hawaii. It also seems that I am compelled to do
something new every ten years because, in 2004, I planted my first tobacco seeds in order to grow tobacco for fine cigars. After numerous and repeated failures, and the production of some very poor quality cigars, I, with the help of my partners in Esteli, Nicaragua, finally succeeded in producing world class cigars made from Kauai-grown tobacco.

In spite of the constant struggles on the farm and in production, the exploitation and counterfeiting of Kona coffee, burdensome government regulations and anti farming Kauai neighbors, my resolve only hardened. Throughout these challenging years my enterprises eventually prevailed by way of ingenuity and determination. This became evident in 2014 when, while searching for a viable cover crop for tobacco, I considered planting triticale, a crop that would benefit the organic matter in the soil between tobacco seasons. Before that cover crop failed, I realized that triticale could be used to produce whisky. Unfortunately, without a harvest, making whisky from triticale was not possible. But my dream to make whisky endured and I turned to another grain, corn, that flourishes on Kauai. I have successfully grown corn on our farms for the purpose of making American bourbon. After four long years of growing various varieties of corn, and serious research and development at a partner distillery in Spokane, Washington, I was able to produce not just a good whisky, but a smooth and robust small batch bourbon. The rest was history – and the Kauai Distilling Company was born.

Our family is now proud to add our lines of Kapahi Bourbon Whisky and un-aged Virgin Kea to our already extensive and successful list of Hawaii-grown, value-added crops, including Coffee Times 100% Kona coffee, Kauai-grown organic Blair Estate coffee, cigars, chocolate, honey and corn. We invite you to enjoy the fruits of our labor and the blessings of the rich and fertile volcanic soil of the Hawaiian Islands.

Aloha,

Les Drent
farmer/owner