Since August, pineapple vodka has been fermenting in a corner of Maui Pine's old cannery, under the eye of master distiller Mark Nigbur. As Pau Maui Vodka, it is now being distributed to restaurants and liquor stores here and on Oahu.
As a premium, specialty drink, quantities are limited.
Nigbur has been on Maui for two years. He also makes a corn/wheat vodka in Colorado, called Alcius (Latin for high).
Distilling requires sugar, usually, as with Alcius, obtained from starch. With pineapple vodka, the conversion step is unnecessary. The sweet juice is fermented directly. "It's very, very clean. It makes a beautiful mash," says Nigbur.
Unlike some other alcoholic drinks that have "Maui" on the label, Nigbur says, Pau Maui is a genuine Maui product. Not only the juice, from Maui Gold sweet pines, but everything else he can obtain on the island is procured here. The water is from Menehune.
The bottles and cardboard boxes come from off island, but otherwise it's a handcrafted Maui product, he says.
He emphasizes that Pau Maui is a pineapple vodka, not a vodka flavored with pineapple.
Neil LeVecke, president, Pau Trading Co., says, "It has a crisp, clean taste that will definitely challenge the world's elite vodkas."
Going for a limited market, each bottle is numbered and comes with a card certifying the purity of its contents, signed by Nigbur.
"While there is no hint of pineapple in the taste, the local Maui pineapples allow us to make an exceptionally clean mash," he says. "Plus, we use an extremely pure distillation process."
More at www.paumaui.com.
FLYING THROUGH GEORGIA. A new airline organized by Pacific Wings, GeorgiaSkies, has started off with $29 fares for every seat on every flight through Oct. 20. It began operating Sept. 29 with six daily flights from Atlanta to Athens and Macon. GeorgiaSkies is organized on the same model as Pacific Wings in Hawaii and its subsidiary in Texas and New Mexico. "We want people to see how inexpensive and easy it is to skip traffic and parking hassles when connecting to flights out of Hartsfield or taking MARTA (the subway) into Atlanta," said GeorgiaSkies President Gabriel Kimbrell. GeorgiaSkies is also demonstrating its commitment to a greener Georgia by partnering with American Reforestation Corp. to plant one seedling tree for every passenger flown.
POKI BREAD. King's Hawaiian calls it the "Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread - King's Hawaiian Sliced Sweet Bread."
Coming in November. The Taira family started baking sweet bread in Hilo 50 years ago, then moved in 1988 to Torrance, Calif., where it has a 150,000-square-foot bakery. See kingshawaiian.com.
KID-SAFE HALLOWEEN. Whatever happens on Front Street can stay on Front Street. Lahaina Cannery Mall will sponsor a family Halloween of magic, trick-or-treating, crafts, face painting and its famous keiki costume contest Oct. 31. It starts at 5 p.m. with magician Brenton Keith, illusionist Kenn Serrano. This year will introduce a Maui Gold Pineapple Decorating Contest. Free. Visit www. lahainacannery.com.
HAWAIIAN ACHIEVEMENT. American Savings Bank has named Akimeka Technologies LLC as the winner of its Native Hawaiian Business of the Year Award. Akimeka, based on Maui but with offices on the Mainland, develops methods of handling computerized medical records. President Philip Kahue accepted the award. American Savings will donate $5,000 to nonprofit organizations chosen by Akimeka, Aha Punana Leo and the Honolulu Habitat For Humanity.
n "Tides of Commerce" appears on the Money Matters page every other Monday. If you have an item for the column, please call reporter Harry Eagar of The Maui News at 242-6392 or fax the item to his attention at 242-9087. E-mail email@example.com.