Podcast

Ian Burrell from Equiano Rum

Ian Burrell wants his new rum, Equiano, to defy expectations and help people discover new things both in terms of flavour, regionality and social equality.

By: Tiff Christie|July 16,2020

With the interest in premium rum on the rise, qualities such as purity and authenticity are becoming more important than ever.

And this is where Equiano comes in as this limited release blends flavours and techniques from separate hemispheres.

We talk to global rum ambassador, Ian Burrell, one of the founders of the brand about blending, terroir and effect that ageing in different barrels has on a liquid.

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With the interest in premium rum on the rise, qualities such as purity and authenticity are becoming more important than ever. This is where Equiano comes in as it blends flavors and techniques from separate hemispheres. Available in limited release, we talked to global rum ambassador Ian Burrell, one of the founders of the brand, about blending, terroir and the effects of ageing in different barrels has on the liquid.

Thank you for joining us, Ian.

You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

Equiano is the brainchild of both yourself and Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery. How did the project come about?

It came about when actually my partners, the founding partners, they actually had an idea to create a new style of rum, and brought me onboard to see what I would bring to the table or what ideas I had, especially as an independent ambassador for the category of rum, which is what I am currently. I said to them if I was going to get involved in doing a rum, it'd have to be unique in many ways. One is in where the rum is from or what it makes up of to the actual blend, and then, three, the name and story behind the actual product would have to have some sort of meaning, especially as a new rum.
So that's how the project came about, and then I put this to Richard Seale in Barbados, and he liked the idea, and said, "Yeah." He'd love to be a part of it.

Now, what was it about working with Richard Seale that particularly appealed to you?

I don't like to admit that to him because it makes his head get a bit swelled up a little bit, but he's actually the best rum maker or one of the best rum makers in the world at the moment. The awards in recent years have concerned that. He's been named Rum Maker of the Year four times in a row in the International Spirit Challenge. The International Wine and Spirits have named his distillery Distillery of the Year, and Rum Distillery of the Year. Three years ago, one of his new rums, his 2007 vintage of a Foursquare label actually won Best Spirits in the World, beating whiskeys, brandies, and other like spirits. So his credentials speak for their self.
So to actually have him working on this product is a massive honour, but as a good friend, I hate to remind him of that because it makes his head, as I said, swell a little bit about how good he is.

Now, you were talking about the three factors that you thought were important. The first was having the rum come from different areas. We might go through each one. What was important about the different hemispheres, I suppose?

When we think of rum, when you look at spirits in general, you always look to see where the actual product's from, and whiskey has that in abundance, so when you think of a whiskey, you don't ask where is it from. Is it from Scotland? Is it Scotch? Is it an Irish whiskey? Is it American whiskey, whether that be rye or bourbon? Is it Japanese whiskey or is it an Indian whiskey? With rum, we seem to forget that rums are made in different countries around the world, and each country has its own rules and interpretation of what a rum is. Just the same way as whiskey is, so not all rums are the same, and shouldn't be all categorised in the same way.
The best way to categorise rums are by regions about how and where they're made. So we wanted to have two regions, and blend those two rums accordingly, and this is why we wanted to get a rum from the African continent, which is not really known for its rum yet. We are hoping to actually elevate that, and the Caribbean region, which is seen as the epicentre of the rum world. It's important to actually have something that is new to show the slightly diversity of the category and, also, introduce a new region, the African region, to the rum world.

Now, the next thing you mentioned was the barrels. Why was it interesting to you to get two different barrel types involved?

Yeah because a large percentage of rums made around the world, especially in the Caribbean, as I said, the epicentre of the rum world, where you'd want to use a bourbon cask, which are made out of American oak. Now, the rules in America is that you're only allowed to use new wood when you're making certain types of whiskeys and bourbons, so once the whiskey has come out of those barrels, those barrels are ready to be used for other spirits, and some will go to Scotland, and Ireland for their whiskeys, and others will go to the Caribbean for rum. A large percentage of rums are aged in what we call American oak or once-used bourbon casks. There are also some that are aged in brandy casks or cognac casks as well, which give a slightly different flavour profile.
So I thought it would be interesting to actually mix those two types of rums, one aged in ex-cognac casks and one aged in ex-bourbon casks. Blend those together and see if we get an interesting taste profile, and we did. We enjoyed it, and we said, "Well, if we enjoy it, then other rum lovers around the world should enjoy it as well," and that was one of the reasons why we actually decided to go with those two different types of casks for that particular type of blend.

The third thing that you were mentioning was a good story. Do you want to tell us a little bit about... and this is where the name comes from, a little bit about the story behind the rum?

So the name of the rum, Equiano, pays homage to a freedom fighter, revolutionist, an abolitionist, an entrepreneur from the 18th Century, an African named Olaudah Equiano. His story was an amazing story when you peel away the layers. He was kidnapped when he was about 11 years old, taken from Africa to Barbados to be sold as a slave, and then once he was then sold on, he was then brought to the United Kingdom. That's the journey that our rum actually makes. Our rum starts off in African. It's then sent to Barbados to be blended, and slightly further aged, and then sent over to the United Kingdom.
Our rum actually makes that journey the same way as Olaudah Equiano made that journey in the 18th Century. Now because of who he was and what he stood for, a lot of his ideals are the same ideals as myself and the founding partners where we wanted to be able to give back. We wanted to be able to tell a story, make a statement, be world changing, be a world first, which is what he was when he had his book published in the 18th Century. It was his memoirs. It was about what it was like being enslaved, what it was like being on the high seas. It was an eight-time bestseller in the U.K., a one-time bestseller in the U.S., and it led to... It opened up many people's eyes.
It awoken a lot of people, and it actually was instrumental to leading to the abolition of slavery in 1807, so he was an important part of British history, of African history, of human history, of human rights history, and we just felt that was an important part of history that everyone should know about. We wanted to tip our hat, and pay homage to him by naming the rum after him, but coincidentally the journey of our rum makes the same journey he did from the African Continent to the Caribbean, and then from the Caribbean to the Americas, and the U.K.

An amazingly relevant story considering American politics right at the moment.

Correct. Yeah. It has. I mean, we thought about this brand and named this brand about two years ago because I knew about the story. I had learnt about the story not in school, which is one of the things I am pushing for here in the U.K. for his story to be part of the curriculum. I learnt this in Saturday school, so it was like an extension that my mom sent me to. It was a story I knew, a lot of people around me knew, but not much people in the world know about his story, so if we can open up people's eyes just to see who he was, what he stood for, and as you said, it's relevant to today, so the way that the world is seeing certain things. Then it's a plus-plus where they are educated, and we are getting people to discover new things.
That's what we are about. We're about the journey of discovery, and we want people to discover, enlighten their self, and understand that we are all the same. We should be all treated the same, and we should be all there to enjoy the qualities of life, like a good rum, without fear of persecution. So yeah. It's important. It is definitely relevant to today's conversation, and it just coincided with a brand that we felt that was telling that story two years ago, and it's now even more relevant today.

Now, you mentioned earlier about African rum not having a particularly high profile. Now, I believe that the African rum that you're using is actually from Mauritius.
Do you want to tell us a little bit about the quality of Mauritian rum?

Yeah, sure. So as a global ambassador for the category I'm very fortunate. I get to sample and taste rums from all over the world, and go through various different distilleries, and sugar estates, and refineries. On the African continent, there aren't many what we see as high level or high quality sugar cane distillates that are sold around the world, and sipped, and savoured or used in cocktails by some of the best bartenders, but when you look at the Island of Mauritius, which is part of East Africa, their rum seems to have, slowly but surely, integrated or started to get into the markets of Europe, and started to get into the markets of the U.S.A, two big rum drinking areas.
They've really gone leaps and bounds into getting recognition. I've been there a few times, and some of their rums are actually very good, a little bit better than most people believe, only because, again, they are still seen as new to the rum table as such, but the great thing about Mauritian rum is they have influences from two of the European countries that colonised the islands, so you have English influence, and they have the French influence in the mentality of how they make their particular rums. Now, the French colonists would have made their rums using fresh sugarcane juice as the raw material, where the English colonisers would have made their rums from molasses. It would have been the byproduct of making sugar.
So when you get to Mauritius, you had two types of rums from the various distilleries there, and there are about six. There is seven now. There is a new distillery. Seven distilleries there, and between the seven distilleries they are making some rums that have been influenced from the French colonists, and there are some rums that have been influenced by the English colonists. So there's a big variation of the rums that are there. Fresh sugarcane juice rums, or molasses based rums, so it's a great base for us, for Equiano because it means we have the option of picking from any of the distilleries there to be part of our profile for our particular batches.

Now, I believe it's Gray’s Distillery in Mauritius that you are using. Why did you particularly choose them and why a molasses for this distillation?

For me, it was because the type of consumers we are looking to try to attract to this particular brand, our particular brand, and this particular rum. Most people will drink rum made from molasses. That's the style of rum they find much more easy to appreciate. Now, when I say most people, we're talking about people that have been influenced by the old English style of making rum or the old Spanish style for making rum. So all the big brands in the world are made from molasses. Now, the French influenced or the French colonial rum and the Portuguese would have made rum from fresh sugarcane juice.
Again, very big and very popular, but not as world renowned. So we wanted to have a rum that would be much more easily appreciated for our first effort, so that's one of the reasons why we went with molasses rum. On a personal tip, I do have a good relationship with Graves, but Richard Seale and Bob Adolph because he loves his rums so much, and thinks very highly of his products. He's very selective of the brands he compliments, and would entertain working with, and some of the rums are coming out of Gray’s. He's actually given the thumbs up to, so it'd be an easier win to actually have him work with a brand from another distillery, another country, another continent that he knew and appreciated. So that's another reason why we went with Gray’s

I believe the Mauritius rum has been aged in American oak.

No, French oak.

French oak, sorry.

Yes, French oak. Yeah.

Often, it's aged in American oak, so what is the difference in taste that people will find between a French oak former cognac barrel, and the American oak that they might be used to?

In general, a lot of the rum connoisseurs will say that the American oak gives a sweeter profile to the spirits. You'll get a lot more what we call vanillins, which would be interpreted as vanilla notes that you'd get from American oak, and so that's a pleasurable aroma that we normally associate with rum, and it's probably one of the reasons why spiced rums, which are rums with additions, and spices, and sugars added to it, one of the flavours they normally add to spiced rum would be vanilla. You'd get that naturally in a natural rum like Equiano, and some of the rums from the Caribbean. The American oak is sweeter notes. The types of fruit notes that you will get from there would be much more things like a dark fruit, dark berries as well.
You get some herbs and spices, but the French casks are normally associated with a much more spicier styles of flavour profiles, so if you're looking for your liquid to have a little bit of spice and aniseed at the end, and that little bit of tingle of herbs, you would go with a French oak. The barrels are normally slightly bigger as well, so they're not going to be as woody if there have been seasons that have been used before.
So again, they're really good for longterm ageing, and our rum has been aged for a minimum of 10 years in these ex-cognac barrels. Now, that's important because in Mauritius, just like Barbados, they're based in the tropics, so their heat in the daytime is quite ferocious. This does mean that when a spirit is in one of these barrels, it's evaporating at an alarming rate. Now, if we compare that to, say, a whiskey in, say, a cooler climate, let's say Scotland, a whiskey in Scotland will be losing about 2% of its liquid every year through evaporation or the Scots like to call the angel share.
In the tropics, like Mauritius and Barbados, they are losing around 6% of their rums through the tropical ageing, and so if you have a barrel that's going to be fairly newish, it's going to give a lot of wood to that spirit over the course of time. You don't want too much wood, so you want what we call seasoned barrels or older barrels to subtly give that woody flavour over the course of time, especially if you're three times faster in these tropical climates than these spirits or whiskey, let's say in Scotland, would be actually losing 6% as opposed to 2% a year. Yeah, so these barrels are important, especially if they're older, and they're seasoned, just because of the speed of the evaporation of spirit that happens every year in the tropics.
Our rums, both the Barbados component, and the Mauritian component are what we call tropically aged. They are aged 100% in the tropics.

It would probably be a better idea to have a slightly bigger barrel in that case as well.

Yeah. They are. They are. Some of the cognac casks there can be like 500 liter-sized barrels where a typical American oak ex-whiskey barrel will be 220, 230 liters.

Well, that's quite a big difference then.

The cognac casks are sometimes even double the size of the American oak.

The rum will then travel across to Barbados to the Foursquare Distillery. Actually, how does it travel? Does it go by ship or how do you-

All by ship, yeah, all by boat. It's a long and expensive process to do that, but because it's part of the story that we want to get across. We don't mind the extra expense because it's important for us to be as green as possible, and to be as carbon... to basically make our carbon footprint as low as possible, so yeah. We stick it on a boat, and send it from Africa through the various trade routes, and it gets to Barbados weeks later before it's rolled out, and then sent to the Foursquare Distillery to be blended or vatted, if you like to call it vatted, to end up, again, in bottles. Those bottles are then put onto another boat to be sent over to the U.S. and then to the U.K. so everything is done by boat.

Right. Interesting question. Do you find that the rum actually has a lot more flavour once it's finished the sea journey than it did when it started?

A very good question. Now, some people have done experiments where they've put rums in wooden barrels, and then sent them over on the ship, so the movement of the ship will agitate the liquid on the rum. Now, that's 100%. That definitely changed the flavour of the rum because what you're doing you're adding energy to the ageing process, so you're moving the actual liquid inside there. Whether it's better or not, then again, that's down to personal preference, but 100% if you are putting a barrel of rum in a wooden cask, and it's important to remember it's in a wooden cask, then the movement of the ship will add energy to the actual liquid as it moves around inside the pores of the actual wood. Yes.
You will be agitating it and getting different types of flavours. Now, if your product is bottled already, like ours is from Barbados to the U.K. or from Barbados to America, then it's not going to change because you're in bottles. There's not going to be any change in the product. Also, a lot of spirits are sent around from country to country on ship in what we call plastic, reusable barrels, so once the ageing has stopped within the country, it doesn't continue ageing for when you need to bottle it, into another country, so a lot of these rums are sent in 250 litres or even 500-litre plastic barrels, as opposed to wooden casks.
Yeah, so if you're doing in a wooden cask, yes, there will be a change in the actual liquid. If you're not doing it in a wooden cask, then there will be no change.

Right. Okay. All right. Well, look. Let us get the rum to Barbados. Once it gets there to the Foursquare Distillery, talk to us a little bit about the rum that Foursquare are creating that you will be blending it with.

Okay. So Foursquare as a company they've been around since the early 1900s, and making rum they are five generations of rum makers now, which is the 5th generation. They've got a lot of expertise in blending and creating their own brands or reviving old Barbados brands. They've bought a few Barbados brands and brought them back to life by making those rums, so they have in stock at the moment just in excess of 40,000 barrels of rum ageing.
So for the rum that actually comes in from Mauritius to them, and is then brought over to their warehouse, and then what they'll do is they'll select some of their rums that Richard's actually earmarked to be blended into the Equiano, and then they will vat them, and by vatting them they put that into a larger vat, and the vat could be anywhere from 1,000-2,000 litres vat or even bigger than that. You marry the rum together and you let that sit for a couple of weeks so it marries together. He will sample then, and once he's ready, once he says, "Yeah. That's ready to be bottled as Equiano, that is then what's called bottled as such through their bottling line that they have in Barbados.
That was key for us as well it's actually bottled in Barbados, as opposed to the cheaper process would be to just put them back into a plastic barrel, and then send that over to the U.K. and bottle it over in Europe. We want to be bottled in Barbados because we felt it was, again, part of the story, and it was another way of giving back to the areas that are making the rums.
So with local tax, the local tax is made there, as opposed to the value being created abroad. Again, that's another why I wanted to get involved and do the rum this particular way because if I was going to use my name and put my name to a brand, I have to be giving back to the industry that helped me to get my name to where it is. So yes. We bottle it. It's vatted. It's blended in Barbados with Richard's rums. He uses a rum from American oak, and blends that with the cognac cask rums from Mauritius, and then bottles it there, puts them into the boxes, and then some shipment goes to the U.S. and some shipment goes to the U.K.

Once it is blended, what sort of flavours or nuances will the combination of the two rums create?

It's a good question. The reason why is because that's one of the things I'm always asked in some of the rum connoisseurs have taken to Equiano quite early. Some of them know Foursquare rums and some of them know Gray’s rums, and there is one particular brand from Gray’s called New Grove, which is their biggest exports, and I always say to them, "Is there similarities to Foursquare rums or Gray’s rums or is there a combination of both?" There are different taste profiles that people pick up on. The common one is that people always say that they get on the nose, they get a lot of fruits, and soft fruit, orchard fruits, which is what they will get from a Foursquare rum, but on the finish of the actual rum, they get a little bit of peppers and spice, and a touch of aniseed, which is normally associated with rums from New Grove or the Gravis area in Mauritius so it's nice to have those combinations, that fruity, slight touch of vanilla or like a buttery-type of note of Barbados rum, but then the finish is nice medium to long, with a little bit of spice, just like if you add in some seasoning to your favourite dish just to lengthen the flavour, lengthen the taste.
All these flavours can be picked up or subjected to the individual person because it hasn't been masked by the addition of any sugar or any spices. It is all natural for the actual rum and, again, that's another important thing we have to do with this particular rum, and that's part of Richard Seale's USP is that the rum has to be untouched, except for what Mother Nature is actually adding to the actual product when it's ageing inside the wood.

Was it what you expected in terms of flavour after it had been blended?

I could be honest and say it was actually better than what I expected. I actually played around with a few ideas of blends and, again, it would have been just getting some of Foursquare rums and some of the Mauritian rums, and blending them at home, and coming up with different ideas of where I think this rum the direction should go and, also, using it in different ways because the great thing about Equiano it's not a sipping rum. It's a drinking rum, meaning it can be drunk in many different ways. It could be sipped. It could be drunk neat. It can be drunk on the rocks with your favourite mixer or inside a cocktail, so when I was playing around with ideas I was trying to create a rum that could all those things, and came up with a final idea of what I wanted it to be, and tasted that. I gave some samples to friends and bartenders, and did some research there, and everyone loved it.
When I said to Richard, "This is what I wanted," he said, "Yeah." He's a man of very little words. He said, "Yeah, yeah. No problem." And then he created a sample and sent it out, and when I smelt and tasted it, I was like, "Wow." It was definitely better than what I thought he was going to do as such for a particularly rum. Yes. It was a lot better than what I thought it was going to be. We've been very fortunate; had a lot of people who actually thought the same way, including judges in three of the biggest spirit competitions in the world. In a blind tasting, we won a gold medal in the International Spirit Challenge.
We got 90 points out of 100 in the International Wine and Spirit Challenge. We got a gold medal in the Concours Mondial, which is one of the toughest spirit competitions out there. They have 104 judges from all over the world that are all master blenders, distillers, and spirit makers, and ambassadors. Recently, we just won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards, so in blind tasting, the liquid holds its own. Some of the comments we've seen online over the last few weeks have been very, very complimentary to our product, so that's testament again to the blending skills of Richard and the Foursquare team.
It definitely checks a lot of boxes for a rum that can be drunk in all different types of occasions, and for all different types of rum drinkers.

If someone was to pick up a bottle for the first time, how would you recommend that they first approach it?

Well, I would love them to actually drink it neat first, only because then they can get the full nuances of what the rum delivers. Having a nose, taking in some of the aromas, and then a little, tiny sip on the pallet just to wake up the senses on the pallet, and then another bigger sip to coat the pallet, and get in all the natural flavours of the rum. It's 43% alcohol by volume, so it's slightly a bit stronger than the regular 40% or 80 proof in the States. What that slight little bit of alcohol premiumisation just to drive that flavour. So I would recommend sampling that first, and then if they drink rums in a particular way, regardless of the rum they drink, then continue drinking the Equiano in that way.
So if you're a person that enjoys rum, but you can't drink the rum neat, then drinking Equiano with your favourite mixer, whether it be ginger ale or ginger beer, or even Coca-Cola. Tonic water is another way I'd say to people. Have a nice, tall glass of Equiano with tonic water, twist of lime, and a twist or orange peel. It's an idea, and it's a beautiful tasting, refreshing way to drink Equiano. So as I said before, it should be appreciated in the way that you drink rums because a funny thing is I used to have a bar in London where we had 300 rums in the back bar, and I'd have customers come in, and they'll say, "I don't really like the taste of rum." I'm like, "Well, what's your favourite drink?"
They would say, "A mojitos." I'd say, "Well, you know, a mojitos is like rum." They're like, "Really?" They'd realise. I drink those in mojitos," because they just can't drink neat spirits. They just think it's either too spicy, too hot. They don't like the aftertaste, the flavour, but once that rum is in a cocktail, they'll drink that for days. Again, it's about your own different rum experience, and that's why I never try to pigeonhole and say, "You must drink it this way." I always say, "Drink it in the way that you find pleasurable for rum."

If you were, though, going to recommend a cocktail that it particularly shines well in, what one would you perhaps suggest?

I think the first one would be a daiquiri. Love a daiquiri. It encompasses the rum trinity, which is rum, wine, and sugar. I think there has to be... No one can say they created the rum, lime, and sugar drink because you'd have to be really crazy to be living in an area like the tropics, and not come across rum, lime, and sugar in a drink. So the daiquiri, for me, is definitely one of the ways I'd drink that, and you can do little twists and tweaks to a daiquiri. One of my favourite ways is a Burrell daiquiri. It's named after me where instead of using sugar I'm using agave nectar, and I also add a couple of dashes of orange bitters, and I finish it off with just a twist of orange peel, so I'm getting the oils of the orange peel just sitting on top of the cocktail.
You get a nice aroma of fresh orange as you take a sip of the cocktail. Measurement-wise, I use two parts Equiano, one part fresh lime juice, half a part of the agave nectar, shake it up. I'm sorry, three dashes of orange bitters, the shake it up, and then a twist of orange peel as the garnish. That's one way. Another popular way is in what we call aromatic-style cocktails, like Manhattans, so Equiano, sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, whether it be Angostura bitters or chocolate bitters, giving it a nice stir, and serving it as a nice, little aperitif before a meal, and then another popular one is the old fashioned.
The old-fashioned is, for me, one of the best ways to drink an aged spirit. It's a simple, simple drink where it's one sugar cube doused with bitters, you muddle that, you add your spirit. Give that a stir to dilute and dissolve the sugar with ice as well just to chill it down, and dilute it again. Yeah. You keep stirring and stirring, and stirring, until the ice starts to melt. Add some more ice. Maybe add a little bit more booze, and then finish off with a twist of orange peel, and maybe a really nice marinated cherry as a garnish, and you add a beautiful tasting cocktail made in the old-fashioned way of just sweetening and diluting your aged spirit.

The brand is donating 5% of its profits annually to the Ground Level Freedom and Equality Project. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about that?

So as I said before, the whole idea was to be involved with Equiano was to be able to give back, and there are various different projects we're looking at, and charities we're looking at to get involved with. The idea would be to raise as much money as we can from profits, but until then, donating money from bottle sales sold from our webpage, so we're donating $2 from our American website, and £2 from our English website to charities that we're looking at.
I want to say Ground Level, so charities that are dealing with enslavement of people in Africa, and Europe, and the Americas; equality charities where we can actually help or hope to make a difference to an individual where they can have equal rights, whether it be work, whether it be their livelihood, their lifestyle, any way that we can actually make a difference by just selling and promoting, and talking about our rum, we want to be involved, so again, it's an important part of the founders, our mission. It's an important part of the original story of Equiano, was about helping other people. Yes. We made it as a conscious decision. All of our investors have invested into the rum. They've all bought into that, and everyone agreed with that.
We're going to be making announcements on the first charity that we're actually going to be working with later on inside the year, but as a foundation, we want to be working with as many people in the organization as possible where we can help make a difference.

You've talked about the rum being available in the U.S. and in the U.K. Any other international locations at this stage?

Yeah. Well, we focus on the U.K. because that's where we're based. The U.S. because the U.S. is one of the five biggest rum markets in the world, the others being the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Germany, so we're actually in Germany at the moment. We are in talks with people from France. We're at this second stage of tasting with an organization in Canada called the LCBO, who are one of the biggest buyers of spirits in the world, and they basically service all the spirit shops in the Ontario area, which encompasses Toronto.
So we're working for the five biggest markets, but because of the rum, because of who is behind it, and the difference that you bring to the table, we've had countries and importers from around the world that have contacted us and said, "We want your rum. We want to be the distributor of your products in our territory." At the moment, we're in place like Slovakia. We're in Czech Republic. We've had someone contact us that wants to bring a shipment into Australia. Where else are we in now? Italy. We're in talks with... At the moment, we've been approached by a company in Russia that want us exclusively for that country there.
Although we're still fairly new, we only launched a few months ago, officially six months ago, and not at a great time because of the pandemic. We've had a lot of interest from companies around the world that have either read about us, and managed to get hold of samples, and tastings, or just by the reputation of the people that are involved in the brand. Everyone is looking for something new in that category that's showing that's a premium rum sector. The premium rum sector is pretty much coming from a standing start because rum is one of the last spirits to be accepted as premium. You get that in whiskey. You get that in brandies, and cognacs, and such. You get that even in vodka and, of course, gins.
Rum is that next spirit that people are looking at to be the next big premium spirit that everyone will gravitate towards. So they're looking for that new rum, and we've come at a good time where we're turning a lot of heads, and a lot of people are looking and tasting, and sampling the product, and it checks a lot of boxes for them, and approaching us. We haven't had to go out and find potential distributors in our so-called weaker markets. They've been coming to us. It's a nice problem to have. Most of these sales have been... Yeah, most of these sales have been off trade as well, and online, and from the website because of the fact that a lot of bars have been closed, but now some of them are slowly, but surely starting to open. We can start to focus a little bit on the on trade as well.

What other plans are there for the brand in the future?

Our next immediate plans will be to create another Equiano rum. So the Equiano rum we have is what we call a premium, aged rum, gold in colour. Some people might even call it dark. As an opposite of that, we want to make a light rum, and mainly for the cocktail industry because a lot of bars and bartenders like to make amazing cocktails, but they love to have better quality ingredients. Some of the white rums or the lighter rums that are out there are one dimensional. They're accessible and easy to work with, but they don't bring as much to the flavour table for a drink as what we're looking to create with our Equiano Light. So we're creating a lighter one.
It will be aged as well a minimum of three years old, but a lot lighter in colour than the existing Equiano, and it will be made mainly for the bartenders to use inside their bars, in some of the top bars around the world, top hotels, restaurants, and cocktail establishments for them to use in various things like the cocktails, like the daiquiris, and the Mojito, and other great drinks I'm hoping that these guys will be able to create for us. That's one of the things we're looking to do. We're looking to create the next Equiano rum, and other Equiano rums as well, older, maybe even from slightly different regions. We are playing around with some other rums from different parts of the African Continent as well, and bringing them to Barbados.
We have a lot of scope of different types of rums that we can use to create different types of limited batches for the Equiano brand, but we just want to create great liquid stories for the discerning drinker that want to have a beautiful tasting rum in a collection, a great rum that they can share with their friends and, also, have a story to talk about the origins of the actual product, where it has come from, how it's made, and compare it to some of the rums that they already have in their collection, whether they're Equiano rums or some of the other great rums around the world from Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba, Martinique, Guadalupe, some amazing other rums around the world that they can taste and compare these with Equiano.

Well, thank you for joining us this evening. Now, if people want-

No, not a problem.

... more information about the brand, they can go onto your website, which is Equianorum, so E-Q-U-I-A-N-O-R-U-M.com

Ian, thank you so much for joining us.

You're welcome. You're welcome. Thanks for having me, again, and hopefully, we'll have a sip of rum when I'm over there.

Excellent, look forward to it.

For more information about Equiano Rum, go to equianorum.com

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Ian Burrell from Equiano Rum

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