A drink with… Nic Akinnibosun, Saint Ogun
Co-founder Nic Akinnibosun (pictured below left) explains how he and co-founder Rico Oyejobi (pictured right) took their long-standing love of rum and proud heritage to create Saint Ogun.
How did you get into the spirits industry?
We both come from a creative agency background, so the spirits industry is new ground for us. But it felt like there were a lot of roads leading us here – our love for rum and curiosity for everything related.
What inspired you to create Saint Ogun with Rico?
We’ve been friends for over a decade, and, in that time there’s been a lot rum drinking, so Saint Ogun was really born out of a fondness and appreciation for it. It’s also synonymous with our everyday worlds in more ways than one, like the fact that Rico’s family runs a rum distillery in Dominica. Even though we weren’t able to work with them on the final product, rum has always been close to us.
Equally, we felt like most rums out there weren’t speaking to us in a relatable way beyond liking the taste. So we saw an opportunity for something more contemporary, truthful and forward facing.
Saint Ogun is a blend of rums from five distilleries. How did you land on the final recipe?
A lot of sampling and honing our personal taste over time, as well as broadening our knowledge. Eventually we knew the profile we wanted to create – something that was bold and had enough character for an evolving taste with expressive fruit notes.
A big sticking point was the ABV. As the rum is so smooth, we wanted to perfect which notes we dialled up without overpowering the taste with strength. One evening we had a final three samples and we both just knew this was the one.
What makes the brand stand out from other rums?
The story of Saint Ogun and how those two words directly reflect our personal heritage, interests and outlook. By that virtue, our starting point was really different to a lot of brands in this space.
While the brand was founded in London, it’s a story with a perspective across a diaspora that resonates around the world. Staying truthful to the history of [the Yoruba deity] Ogun and his connections with the Caribbean, but bringing that to life in a visually engaging and modern way is a natural space for the brand to live – from the meaning behind the name right through to the design world around the brand. It’s really a story of craft, invention and imagination.
Is there an age statement on the rum?
No, as we feel it’s important to be transparent in a category where a lot of education is still being done – especially as rum fans ourselves. We’re a multi-distillery rum and Saint Ogun is made up of rums with differing ages, all with unique tastes. The oldest is five years, and the youngest unaged, so it would be misleading to list the eldest, for example.
Where is Saint Ogun available?
We’re available in the UK, both off/on-trade, and also through our own channels. We plan to launch in new markets, as the reception globally has been overwhelming.
What will be the biggest challenge for the brand in 2022?
We have high ambitions in how we want to grow awareness, so meeting those is always a challenge in itself. There are also logistical points like Brexit and overseas trade that are still having repercussions, so the dust is still settling around that too.
Where would you like to see the brand in five years’ time?
It would be beautiful to see a presence in places and spaces that make Saint Ogun what it is, in Africa and the Caribbean, and an expansion into other places that love rum.
We also want to give back to the places we are championing, and do our best to leave a mark and boost grassroots creativity. That would feel full circle almost, us continuing to try and make an imprint with rum in ways that aren’t usually associated with this spirit – or drinks at all, for that matter.