Global rum ambassador Ian Burrell on his love for 'da juice'


Ian Burrell is the one and only global rum ambassador. London born to Jamaican parents, Ian’s packed more into his life so far than most of us ever will – he made his name as a rapper and professional basketballer before deciding to devote himself to tasting and traversing the category of rum. He was inspired by big beer and wine festivals to organise the world’s first International Rum Fest in London in 2007. Now, as the entire category of rum’s ambassador, Ian’s the man to ask about anything to do with the ‘juice’, so we asked away – about the touchy subject of adding sugar, the markets that excite him most and much, much more.

He (sort of) shares with us his favourite rums, the integral role of the spirit in Jamaican culture and why he’s a rare breed of rum ambassador who isn’t tied to any brands.

“I define ‘luck’ as opportunity, preparation, confidence and execution.”

Then, we’re off to Cork in Ireland, where Andy Ferreira from Cask takes us through their intriguing approach to cocktails. They use only locally foraged ingredients to build their menu and some of those elements would never have thought of putting in a drink.

You can listen to the full chat in the player above, or in your podcast app of choice, such as Apple Podcasts. Make sure to subscribe to get Living Proof: Conversations for Bartenders delivered straight to your device every week!

Resources, bars and products mentioned

Key points

  • 03:20 Life organising festivals as an international rum ambassador
  • 11:30 Ian’s favourite rums
  • 13:10 Is this rum’s time?
  • 17:00 Becoming the world’s foremost expert on rum
  • 22:20 Family business
  • 25:00 The big question – what’s the Ian’s opinion on adding sugar to rum?
  • 30:40 The rum tasting process
  • 36:10 The rise of cane spirits
  • 39:00 Jamaican rum