Lucky North Shore residents—while people fly in from as far as California to score a bottle of Privateer’s lauded rum, all we have to do is hop in our cars. With a shiny-new tasting room that was years in the making, the brand finally has a retail location worthy of their award-winning spirits.
The space reflects the thoughtful personality of the brand as a whole. A backlit installation of massive live oak planks stands to the right of the front door, salvaged from the Charlestown Navy Yard, perhaps at one time destined to build and repair ships like Old Ironsides—or like the one owner Andrew Cabot’s relative and namesake sailed during the American Revolution. Large windows looking out on the distilling space were an eBay find, rescued from an old building in Chicago. But the centerpiece is definitely the 30-foot-long bar, crafted from an actual sailboat that Cabot used to race.
Tours start with a sugar tasting—surprising, but sugar is actually integral to rum production, and Privateer sources very special sugars (which are also available for sale, to improve your morning oatmeal). Then visitors get to walk through the distillery itself, including a peek at the barrels full of spirits aging before release. Just don’t touch them —lotions or soaps on your hands can be absorbed by the wood, in much the same way some of the briny salt marsh air infuses their rums. Kristina Nies, tours and hospitality manager, is happy to answer any question but one: Even she doesn’t know the proprietary yeast blend master distiller Maggie Campbell uses to start the fermentation.
Of course, after all that learning, you’ll be forgiven if you’re thirsty for rum—the tour includes samples of up to six spirits—the full range of the brand’s commercially available products, from their award-winning silver and amber rums, to the intense rich Navy Yard and Queen’s Share, as well as a couple tipples from their Distiller’s Drawer series, a group of single-barrel expressions only available at the tasting room.
The Saturday tours are just the beginning. Nies says they will soon be adding cocktail classes as well as a special distiller’s tour led by Campbell, and a founder’s tour led by Cabot.
Make reservations for a tour—they sell out quickly—or show up on April 21, for the brand’s next Distiller’s Drawer release, as well as the annual much-anticipated release of this year’s Tiki Gin.
Distillery tours are held on Saturdays on the hour from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets are available at privateerrum.com/visit-us. Private events, for up to 25 persons, by appointment.
Privateer Rum, 11 Brady Dr., Ipswich, privateerrum.com