America’s native spirit soars

A La Carte

October 13, 2019

Story By: Brandon Bosworth |

General manager Jason Fukeda

American whiskey is booming. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, over 24 million 9-liter cases of domestic whiskey was sold in the United States in 2018, generating over $3.6 billion in revenue for distillers.

Top shelf tipples are proving especially popular.

Rye whiskies from WhistlePig

Jason Fukeda, general manager of Wine Times, knows a thing or two about American whiskey. He is part of the informal Hawaii Whiskey Mafia, along with spirited sprit enthusiasts such as Harry’s Hardware and Pint + Jigger’s Dave Newman, Bar Leather Apron’s Justin Park and other local mixologists. This love of America’s native whiskey has led the Hawaii Whiskey Mafia to collaborate on several private labels of craft spirits, available at Fujioka’s.

A few of the custom, craft whiskies are made by Vermont’s WhistlePig. Both are WhistlePig Old World Cask Finished Ryes ($139.99) aged for 12 years with a bespoke finish.

Mezzapezza Primitivo ($15.99)

The first is finished Pineau des Charente barrels. “It’s a little lighter,” Fukeda says, “and maintains the integrity of the whiskey highlights.”

The second uses three different wood barrels in finishing to achieve the ideal tastes: 40 percent Madeira, 55 percent French sauternes, and 5 percent port. “This one is super complex,” Fukeda says. “We did a lot of tasting to get just the right balance, to see what worked. Nothing in this whiskey is overpowering.” Since it has such a strong flavor profile, integrating the port was especially challenging. “We found that 5 percent was just enough.”

Fukeda says the 10-year aged WhistlePig Single Barrel Rye ($110.99) was the “third whiskey we did with those guys.” He describes the flavor as “as more on the green-tasting side, with pine and spiciness but still very smooth.

A selection of wines available at Fujioka’s Wine Times

Of course, as the name implies, Fujioka’s Wine Times specializes in stocking a variety of wines at a wide range of price points. A good affordable option is the Mezzapezza Primitivo Salento ($15.99) by organic winery Trullo di Pezza.

“It’s ruby red with purple reflections, reveals to the smell a crisp intensity with fruity scents of marasca cherry, plum and a puff of tobacco emerging among the notes of the fruits,” Fukeda says. “The syrup is beautifully pleasing to the round body but absolutely agile thanks to its elegant freshness. Interesting closure with fruity appeal.”

Honolulu, HI 96826

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best