From Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel to Craft Distiller

Eric Dill Turns a Dream Into Reality as He Shares His Passion


Craft Distiller Eric Dill inspecting his Old Pali Road Whiskey

The idea of creating a distillery in Hawaii started three years ago but the infatuation with distilling began a decade earlier while I was deployed in Iraq and read a news story about some service members who were caught making moonshine.

I was completely intrigued by the very idea that someone would know how to take the raw materials and turn them into an alcoholic beverage that was safe to drink, let alone to produce whiskey. I got to wondering how anyone gains the knowledge to do that. After all, back then you couldn’t just login to a YouTube tutorial and learn a skill, as you perhaps can today. I remained curious and started doing some research and then I had a lucky break when a close friend launched a highly successful distillery which provided the motivation, impetus and belief that I too could be successful.

Business Partners Ian Brooks (L) and Eric Dill toasting the success of their Hand-crafted whiskey

While based in Hawaii I met a fellow U.S. Marine Corps officer, LtCol Ian Brooks. We and our families quickly became firm friends and the dream of making a high quality whiskey right here in Hawaii became a shared ambition. I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to be living in this beautiful place we all loved so much and that I would now fulfill a dream of creating a business, and with a close friend.

Old Pali Road Whiskey lined-up on the Ko’olau Distillery Bar during Open Day Tour

It might sound a little romantic but the beauty of the windward side of O’ahu, the coastal community of Kailua where we live, and the majesty of the Ko’olau Range gave us great energy and inspiration. That helped a lot as we set about the less romantic tasks of finding the perfect location for our distillery and navigating the seemingly endless challenges of regulatory bureaucracy. We kept telling ourselves that many others had established successful businesses in the islands, and so could we. After all, we had surmounted much greater challenges in our professional careers. Ian and I approached things with almost military precision and planning and then along the way we met Heather Pence who had years of experience in the beverage industry and soon became our ‘navigator’ and business partner in Ko’olau Distillery.


With great support from family, friends, and many local government employees, the dream matured and we soon realized that not only did Hawaii offer us a wonderful lifestyle but it also offered us the exceptional raw materials we needed to create the purest hand-crafted whiskey possible.  Without a doubt, the pristine rock-filtered waters of the Ko’olau Range not only provide us with the purest water on the planet but also with the lore and legends of the mountain pass that linked both shores of the island, and provided the inspiration for our brand – Old Pali Road Whiskey.


Fast forward to February 2019 and our long-held dream finally became a reality when we launched Old Pali Road Whiskey on the local market. The reaction was immediate and rewardingly positive. Enthusiastic support from the food and beverage industry and our distributor in Hawaii has also been amazing, and the number of outlets offering our hand-crafted whiskey is growing by the week.


Today, Ian and I remain goal-oriented perfectionists and continue to work tirelessly to ensure that we are producing a truly remarkable hand-crafted product of uncompromising taste and purity.


To learn more about Ko’olau Distillery and our tour and tasting schedule, visit:












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