Equiano Light Is Your Ideal Summer Rum
And it’s a good time to explain what a “light rum” really means
What we’re drinking: Equiano Light
Where it’s from: The Equiano Rum Co., the first collaboration of African and Caribbean rum distilleries and an early entry into the nascent category of direct-to-consumer alcohol brands.
Why we’re drinking this: Equiano — the company — has a great story with an important history lesson at its core, taking its name and inspiration from Nigerian-born writer, entrepreneur and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano (we profiled that story last year). As for the liquid itself, we called the brand’s initial release “an extremely balanced rum” that we would be happy to sip neat or in a cocktail.
So we’d be obviously interested in any new product that Equiano releases. And we were curious about how the company defines a “light” rum, which sounds diet-y or suggestive of an unaged or briefly-matured spirit, but in reality … well, there is no legal definition of light (or dark) rum.
“Equiano Light is light in color, light in body, but it’s a light gold rum,” explains Equiano co-founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell. “And the aging here makes it more of a premium product than a white rum.”
Burrell actually claims the Light release came about around the same time as Equiano’s initial release, and was inspired by bartenders who use more than one style of rum in a drink — something that doesn’t happen often with other spirit categories (tequila, whisky, etc.)
As for this release: Equiano Light (43% ABV) is a blend of lightly-aged molasses rum from the Caribbean via the exquisite Foursquare Distillery (aka the Pappy of the rum industry); it’s a mix of pot- and column-still liquid aged a minimum of three years in ex-bourbon barrels. That’s blended with fresh, unaged sugarcane juice from Africa (more specifically, Mauritius) distilled in a single column still.
How it tastes: We were expecting something, well, lighter in profile that would be good for cocktails. And while that’s true, Equiano Light does shine in unexpected ways.
A very light golden hue in appearance, you’ll get earthy and grassy notes on the nose, but that gives way to a creamy vanilla profile on the palette. There’s a bit of citrus, oak and white chocolate, too, but overall, this is not overly sweet and the overall impression is delicate.
It’s ideal for summer. We recommend a cocktail below, but I actually think Burrell’s idea — serving it in a “near neat cocktail” with just ice and citrus from a bit of grapefruit, lime or orange — would be ideal. (It’s a bit different than a rhum-based Ti Punch, but the same minimalist appeal.) Or simply mixed with coconut water.
Interesting fact: Equiano was one of the first two recipients of funding from the recently launched Uncle Nearest Venture Capital Fund, a $50 million fund created to invest in BIPOC and female-owned spirit brands.
Where to buy: For $46 you can buy Equiano Light directly here.
Bonus recipe: We didn’t necessarily miss National Daiquiri Day (July 11), but rather, we just think every day is a chance for a daiquiri. Here’s a wonderfully simple variation that spotlights Equiano Light.
2 oz Equiano Light
1 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
5 fresh mint leaves
Combine rum, lime juice and sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously with ice and pour into coupe or martini glass. Float a little Champagne on the top of the cocktail. Garnish with mint.
The Secret to Great Cocktails? Find Out in The Spill.
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