Meet the man behind the world’s first African and Caribbean rum

Theodora Aidoo July 15, 2020
TIan Burrell, the man behind the world's first African & Caribbean rum - Pic Credit: Equiano Rum

The famous spirit, Rum has inspired culture far beyond the cocktail world. It also has a history weaved in colonialism, slavery, economic oppression, especially in the Americas. Considered one of the staple drinks of the Caribbean, Rum comes in a different blend.

Since the sugarcane industry was made possible by slavery, it is believed that enslaved people may have developed the rum-making process. “Molasses could be sold and used as a sweetener too, but the fermented molasses was enjoyed by the slaves and by poor whites. At some point, somebody distilled this fermented molasses, and rum was born,” spirits writer Fred Minnick said.

A lover of the liquor is introducing a new kind of rum to the United States, blending African and Caribbean cultures. Co-created by Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell “Equiano” is a 100% natural rum that blends Mauritius culture and taste.

Pic Credit:

Burrell is an award-winning “EduTainer”, an ex professional basketball player in the UK and international recording artist, who has established himself as the world’s only recognised Global Ambassador for the rum category.

In 2014, he broke the Guinness World Record for the largest organized rum tasting masterclass. In 2007, he created the world’s first international Rum festival dubbed “The UK RumFest”.

He also inspired the birth of rum festivals around the world including Miami, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Prague, Hong Kong, California, New York, Chicago and Mauritius. Burrell is also currently the rum and cocktail specialist on channel 4 entertainment show – ‘Sunday Brunch’.

According to Burrell, Equiano is a world’s first blend of Cognac cask-aged rum from Africa with ex-bourbon cask rum from the Caribbean. Equiano Rum brings together liquid from Barbados’s Foursquare Distillery and Gray’s Distillery of Mauritius in one exquisite bottling.

The company is named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer, freedom fighter, and entrepreneur. Equiano was enslaved as a child and transported to South Carolina. In 1789 he penned his autobiography, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”, which led to the formulation of The Slave Trade Act, 1807.

“It was important for us to have that journey of the rum coming from Africa, going to the Caribbean and then ending up in England, because that’s the journey Equiano made when he was enslaved,” Burrell said.

“We already knew that our unique rum must be a combination from Africa and the Caribbean, and once we established that our ideals were the same as Olaudah Equiano, it was obvious to us that his story would be our story,” he said in an interview.

With the bold statement of being the world’s first African and Caribbean rum, Equiano is keen about equality and diversity which they say runs deep in their business hence the creation of Equiano Foundation. The foundation’s aim is to fund and support ground-level freedom and equality projects annually.

“We will do this by giving 5% of company profits to the Equiano Foundations chosen charity. We are also pledging £2 / $2 of all bottles brought through the Equiano website to go directly to the foundation,” the company said.

The company produces the spirits in different blends known as ‘Burrell Daiquiri’, ‘Gold and Stormy’, ‘Old Fashioned’, ‘Manhattan and On the Rocks’.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: July 15, 2020


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