Equiano Rum

Equiano Rum – GREAT Rum Worthy of its Esteemed Namesake

Equiano Rum is a spirit that you can enjoy without any reservations whatsoever. That may not sound like anything too particularly extraordinary to some. If you have some sense of/sensitivity to the Afro-Caribbean experience relative to slavery and the continued colonial economic exploitation of Africa and the Caribbean, though, then it’s a very big deal indeed.

As we’ve noted before, some rums yield a specific type of mixed emotions. Reservations over them are rooted in brand names borrowed from the darkest corners of our past. We’ve highlighted Admiral Rodney Rum in this regard before, but there are other notable examples. Captain Morgan, Captain, Bligh, Père Labat – all celebrate men who owned enslaved Africans, or worked tirelessly to maintain the slave trade.  

To the informed, any enjoyment of these rums is tempered, each sip weighing on your conscience.

Not so with Equiano Rum. In fact, quite the opposite.

Like the aforementioned historical figures mentioned above, Equiano was a real man. His life and legend, though, are distinguished at the polar opposite end of the tragedy that was the Atlantic Slave Trade. 

Who was Equiano?

Olaudah Equiano was himself among the tens of millions of residents of Africa that were ripped from their homes and enslaved between the 16th and 19th centuries. He was born in the Eboe (Igbo) region of what is now Nigeria in 1745. His period in bondage began at approximately age 11. 

Equiano’s initial years of enslavement were spent in Africa. There, he was bought and sold several times among tribes foreign to the Eboe. His first taste of the European brand of African enslavement came when he was shipped to Barbados. Soon after, though, he ended up in Virginia, and later England. It was there in the UK that Equiano first learned English. These initial English studies would not expand, though, until he was sold again and returned to the Caribbean.

The year was 1762. The place: Montserrat. Equiano, now nearly 20 years-old, had a new owner. His name: Robert King.

Portrait of Equiano | Photo credit: Flickr user Xavier.

King was a Quaker from Philadelphia. He made his fortune trading in the Caribbean. The opportunity that he gave to Equiano, though, was priceless.

Not only did King help Equiano master the English language, but he also allowed him to earn his way toward buying his freedom. This Equiano achieved by working under King trading in various goods between southern American colonies and the Caribbean. Four years later (1766), Equiano was free.

Free At Last

With his freedom now secured, Equiano returned to London. There, he joined the Abolitionist Movement. A few years later (1789), he struck a blow that rocked the very foundations of the institution of slavery. Foundations that Admiral Rodney, Père Labat and the like worked so strenuously to uphold. 

Equiano’s powerful master stroke: he authored one of the most notable books in history.

His memoir, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, was nothing short of earth shattering.

Never before had the printed words of a formerly enslaved African so vividly described the abject horrors of slavery. Never before had Anglo-European and American audiences been presented so moving and relatable an account of an African’s basic humanity.

In this way, it’s no stretch to say that Equiano’s book did more to sway public opinion against the institution of slavery than any words published anywhere up to that time.

Pretty incredible, right?

Begs the question, though…

Is Equiano Rum worthy of Equiano the man?

Initial answers are readily apparent in the rum’s back story.

What is Equiano Rum?

The world’s first-ever Afro-Caribbean rum, Equiano Rum is a blend of aged expressions produced in Barbados and Mauritius. The Barbados portion, aged eight years in ex-Bourbon casks, is a product of the famed Foursquare Rum Distillery. Mauritius’ Grays Inc. Ltd contributes 10 year-old rum aged in casks formerly used to produce cognac. The rums are blended and bottled at 43% ABV at the Foursquare Distillery. 

Notably, and very much in keeping with the ethos of purity that underscores Foursquare rum production, Equiano Rum does not contain any added sugar, flavorings, or coloring.

It’s pure, authentic rum. The real deal.

All that’s nice, of course, but how does Equiano Rum taste? I mean, it can be all of these uniquely marvelous things, but if it doesn’t taste good, then it certainly won’t live up to Equiano the man, right?

Equiano Rum Tasting Notes

Thankfully, there are no such concerns with this rum. In fact, for my tastes, Equiano is the finest, most comprehensively enjoyable molasses-based rum that I’ve tried in years. 

Indeed, for me, right now, it is the best.

Up front on the nose, Equiano entices with butterscotch and toffee notes. Hints of dried fruits, spices, and molasses also dance about. It sounds like a lot, but in reality the different aromas come together nicely. There’s nothing overly strong about it either. Equiano instead caresses your nose delicately. The olfactory experience is kinda flirty, actually.

On the palate, though, Equiano gets right down to business. The flavor profile is all about honest-to-goodness rum. Smoky oak notes from the ex-Bourbon casks stand out above everything else to me. The Mauritius rum component aged in ex-cognac casks lends some heat in concert with the added ABV. It’s not overwhelming, though. A traditional West Indian overproof Equiano Rum is not. The flavor experience here is much more refined and sophisticated, the extra proof elevating and enhancing beautifully.

Speaking of heat, what subtle flames persist in each sip of Equiano manifest themselves at the back of the throat. In this way, they’re more part and parcel to the finish. This is where a bit of the dried fruits and spices detected on the nose make themselves known to your palate. Oak notes amp up in the finish as well, encouraging another sip in very short order.

Fighting Slavery With Rum

Exceptional flavor and sophistication, though, aren’t the only great reasons to buy Equiano Rum.

In keeping with its namesake’s landmark social justice activism, Equiano Rum donates a portion of its sales to benefit ground-level freedom and equality projects. As Equiano Rum co-founder, Amanda Kakembo noted in a recent interview with our friends over at The Rum Lab:

Our grant supports organizations that work to raise awareness of global injustices around the world, continuing the work of Equiano in fighting for freedom and equality for all people.

Five-percent of global profits, plus $2, or £2 of every purchase made via the Equianorum.com website, go toward The Equiano Rum Company Foundation Grant. The Foundation’s initial beneficiary, Anti-Slavery International, could not be more in line with Olaudah Equiano’s profound impact on the struggle for equal rights.

Where to buy Equiano Rum

The ability to contribute directly to fighting slavery makes purchasing Equiano Rum directly from the company’s website ideal. For those times when you need to get your hands on a bottle more readily, though, you should be able to find Equiano in fine liquor stores across the USA. Total Wine stores, for instance, are a great place to start.

Whether you order online or find it on a store shelf near you, Equiano is one rum you’ll definitely feel good about trying…in more ways then one.


Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

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