About five years ago, Andrew Cabot discovered the history of his ancestor, and also learned that the original Andrew Cabot had operated a rum distillery in Beverly, Massachusetts. This inspired Andrew, and with his partner Nelse Clark, they started a rum distillery in Ipswich. Recently, I toured their facility, getting to meet Nelse and Jeff Murphy, their Head Distiller, and tasted their two products.
Eric Watson, a Master Distiller from West Virginia, to design their facility and create the basic recipes for their rum. Since then, Jeff Murphy has been refining those basic recipes, so they can produce a unique product. Jeff has a background in commercial brewing, having spent a couple years in Singapore and then a number of years in San Antonio, Texas, making vodka and whiskey. Jeff explained to me how they made the rum, answering all of my questions.
In making rum, obviously the most important ingredients are the sugar products that are used, most rums being produced from molasses. There are three basic quality levels of molasses, the lowest being blackstrap. Privateer does not use blackstrap in their rums, preferring a higher quality molasses, and obtain their sugars and molasses from AmCane Sugar, LLC., most which seems to originate from the Caribbean. In addition, not all of their rums use molasses.
They currently have two fermenters, pictured above, which each hold 15 barrels, and they will soon obtain a third fermenter, which will be twice as large. They typically ferment their product for about six days, creating a mixture that is about 8% alcohol. The alcohol will then be stripped out and the mixture will next go be placed into the pot still.
Jeff believes that the specific sugars, amount of aging and type of oak that they use makes their rum more unique than other rums on the market. Their rums generally have light rum flavors, as they do not rely on as much molasses as other distilleries use. Jeff also told me that there is really no tough part of his job, and his enthusiasm and passion for his work and rum was quite evident.
First, I began with the Silver Reserve White Rum ($23-$27), which is made only from cane sugar and brown sugar, without any molasses. So, in some respects it reminded me more of a Cachaça than other rums. It is 80 proof, and had a very appealing nose, smells of tropical fruit, such as banana, with herbal accents. Both come out on the palate as well, especially the herbs, such as anise and fennel. It actually presents a fairly complex taste, very different from many other white rums, and I very much enjoyed its herbal elements. In addition, it is fairly smooth on the palate, with only a mild bite on the finish.
This is actually a white rum that I could drink on its own, such as on the rocks with maybe a sprig of basil. They suggested that in making cocktails with this rum, that using herbs might be best to bring out the rum's flavors. For example, they suggest a Light & Stormy, using their rum, ginger beer and some muddled basil. As I prefer more savory cocktails, this rum would work very well for me and it receives a high recommendation.
Currently, Privateer Rum is available at about 150 accounts, a 50/50 split between restaurants and wine/liquor stores, including places like Gordon's Fine Wine, Kappy's Liquors, Rialto, Clio, and Mistral. They are self distributing and do not yet sell outside of Massachusetts.
In the future, Privateer has plenty of plans, including adding additional rums to their portfolio. They might create a Navy Rum, which would be aged longer and taste richer, or a Clean Shore Rum, where they redistill parts of their white rum. They also want to produce some limited edition Special Releases, as well as experiment with different barrels, such as Sherry and Cognac ones.
Privateer is still a new company, continuing to learn and refine their products, but has already done well and has much potential. Their Silver Reserve is an excellent product and you really should check it out. Their True American Rum is a tasty product, which is sure to gain depth and complexity with time. If you are in Ipswich, stop by for a tour and tasting. If not, look for their products at local restaurants and wine/liquor stores.