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2020 Distillery
Editors’ Choice

Privateer Rum


In homage to his 18th-century ancestor, who was a merchant, rum distiller, and American privateer, descendant and namesake Andrew Cabot founded Privateer Rum in Ipswich, which has earned accolades for its barrel-aged rums made with zero added sugars, colorants, or additives. The distillery also offers a triple-distilled gin. In response to COVID-19, Cabot helped contribute to the production of hand sanitizer.

11 Brady Dr. (formerly 28 Mitchell Rd.), Ipswich, 978-356-0477,

Readers’ Choice

Deacon Giles Distillery


The gin, vodka, and three molasses-based rums (clear, amber and spiced) hit all the right notes when it comes to flavor and quality at Deacon Giles Distillery. But it’s the ever-changing list of inventive libations using those spirits at The Speakeasy Lab that keeps admirers coming back for more. When COVID-19 hit, founders Ian Hunter and Jesse Brenneman switched from producing spirits to hand sanitizer for first responders.

75 Canal St., Salem, 978-306-6675,

+Pandemic Pivot

Privateer Rum

When the pandemic first hit, experts recommended using hand sanitizer to fight COVID-19. That’s because the main ingredient in a hand sanitizer, like Purell, is high-proof alcohol, which can slay the coronavirus upon contact. Suddenly, everyone was snapping up the gooey liquid, which became so scarce it was impossible to find in stores or online.

But hand sanitizer did not become impossible to make. So when a local hospital reached out to Andrew Cabot, founder of Privateer Rum in Ipswich, asking if he could provide them with the high-proof alcohol they needed to make hand sanitizer, he jumped at the chance.

“It felt so good to get out of bed and be active,” says Cabot, who ceased his spirits production the week of March 16. “The world was in a fog during those early days and we knew we could help because we are the largest distillery in Massachusetts and can make a lot of high-proof alcohol quickly.” In fact, the first batch of high-proof alcohol that Cabot sent to hospitals had been distilled earlier that week and was sitting in tanks waiting to be barreled.

“I asked the team to leave the alcohol at a higher proof, while we sorted out the alcohol percentage required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and hospital policies,” says Cabot, marveling at how well the various CEO’s he dealt with worked together for the common good. “We made about 600 gallons of 170 proof ethanol,” says Cabot, “then we made more high-proof alcohol about a week later when Dylan Turner, Managing Distiller at Privateer Rum, volunteered to come back to work to make sure we could continue to meet the medical demand.”

Beyond hospitals, Privateer Rum also provided high-proof alcohol to Conley’s Drug Store in Ipswich. “Pharmacist Alex Doyle did a great job of turning it into hand sanitizer for a range of organizations, including first responders and elderly care facilities around the North Shore,” says Cabot, who stopped distributing his high-proof alcohol toward the end of April.

What most folks don’t know, which causes Cabot to chuckle as he tells the story, is that first batch of high-proof alcohol he distributed to hospitals for hand sanitizer was destined to become rum. But not just any rum. It was going to become the Queen’s Share, which is one of Privateer Rum’s most exquisite rums and historically a rum exclusively enjoyed by royalty, but only on special occasions.

And yet, one could argue that instead of becoming the Queen’s Share, that first batch of high-proof alcohol ended up serving a far more kingly purpose.

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