At the edge of a salt marsh in Ispwich there is an uncompromising brand of rum whose history runs as deep as any American roots. Privateer Rum was named for the family history, as owner Andrew Cabot’s precedescors were American Privateers during the Revolutionary War. The tasting room is a beautiful representation of the company with an old sailboat that Cabot actually used to race, as the bar. Lights replicate where the sail would be, giving the impression that it is at sea. In many ways, the Privateer Rum label is being propelled ever forward with full sails, and one of the driving winds behind Privateer gaining speed is President and Head Distiller Maggie Campbell.
The Little Donkey crew toured Privateer recently and got to taste their many styles, including a new white rum that is just hitting the market. AGM Ashley Willis has been a fan of Privateer simply because of colleagues she had in the Boston bar world who went to work for Maggie when she started at Privateer. Willis is not particularly a rum girl, but says, “Privateer is a go to staple when you want a good clean daiquiri. There’s no question that its good. Because of the people behind it, it has to be good.”
The people make the company, that is for sure. But what is good? To Willis, good is taking a stand for people in need. Not being outspoken, but using your voice when it’s needed, which is exactly how she describes Campbell, who counts inclusion and diversity as some of the main reasons to work in rum. She explained it like this, earlier this year in an interview for ForceBrands.
“Women have always played an important role in distilling, but often lack the visibility they deserve. From the women alchemists of North Africa, who held the secrets of distilling and kept it alive through cultural and religious change and taught others traveling on trade routes, to the wives of Scotch distillers running the operations while their husbands were away on business, to today’s Master Distillers, there have always been women at the helm. We often have a picture in our mind that reinforces a narrative that excludes women, and women of color.
One of the things I find most exciting about rum, and other molasses and sugar-based spirits, is that it is made in Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, North America, Israel, and even Europe.
It is a truly global community. Some of the top rum companies are headed by women and people of color. Appleton, Zacapa, El Dorado, Mount Gay, Brugal all have women of color at the helm of operations. No other spirits category can claim that level of diversity and inclusion. Talent is evenly distributed and in rum, it is evenly represented and celebrated.
The JK Food Group uses tons of purveyors and brands for this reason. The simple truth is that good people care, and caring makes for a good product. Putting in love makes good food and drinks, that’s the oldest ingredient in any recipe book, which is exactly why we were so excited to team up with them for our own JK Privateer Rum Barrel. JK Food Group Beverage Director Jodie Battles, Little Donkey Bar Manager Robert Phillips, and Toro Bar Lead Emma Hubbard worked with them to select a barrel of rum specifically for JK Food Group. Privateer has the ability to distill using column or pot still and has an impressive barrel room for aging their rums. After giving a loose guideline to the Privateer team of wanting a bold, full-flavored rum, Jodie, Robert, and Emma blind tasted an array of finished rums, and the three of them fell in love with one in particular. They chose a Double Pot Stilled Rum, aged in New American Oak, at 90 proof. At this higher proof and being pot stilled, it certainly met the mark of being bold and full-flavored. They loved this rum as it is rich and complex enough to be enjoyed on it’s own or on ice, and is elevated further in cocktails to highlight its subtleties, while the rum remains the star of the show.
As Campbell said, “When it comes to our drive it all flows from one question: what is best practice? We want to make the top-quality decisions to make the best rum possible. It feeds all our conversations, all of our company policy, all of our decisions and employee training. Every member of the crew feels connected and like what we are doing is very special and they have a personal role as a guardian of the rum. It leads to high satisfaction, high quality work, and high-quality rum.”
Next time you visit Little Donkey, Toro or Uni, have a taste of our special barrel Privateer Rum by itself, in a house cocktail, or in a daiquiri, and let us know if you can taste the love.