Privateer: The Distillery Putting American Rum on the Map
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Privateer: The Massachusetts Distillery Putting American Rum on the Map

Privateer works to embody the revolutionary spirit of the New Englanders of early America in everything they make at their distillery in Ipswich, Massachusetts. We sat down with CEO and founder Andrew Cabot to talk about Privateer Rum. 

Privateer was established in 2011 after Cabot left the fast-paced tech world for the slow, uncertain world of the aged spirits.

Cabot said, “I love the opposite pressure.” He continued, “it’s going to land where it lands and there’s not much we can do between now and then. Hopefully, we guessed about a zillion things right.”

The Legacy

Privateer Rum Andrew Cabot

(Photo: Privateer Rum)

Cabot is six generations removed from the original Andrew Cabot (1750-1791), who was a merchant, rum distiller and American privateer during the American Revolution. When starting Privateer, Cabot was drawn to a family history of rum-making and privateering. He also noticed an open window as the craft movement presented an opportunity for creating something special.

Cabot saw craft rum as the underdog in the spirits world dominated by big brands with a lack of transparency and said, “it must be because I’m from Boston. I get the underdog thing.”

Privateer is working to bring back an American style of rum from 1865 to around 1920’s prohibition. “I’m motivated to bring this category, this style of rum back, consistent with history. We will interpret it a little bit, just as the distilleries of the day didn’t do things the exact same way. And it’s a great privilege to able able to carry this,” said Cabot. 

Part of the intention behind Privateer’s rums is striving for a spirit that tastes characteristically American. This means the use of new American oak and aging in specific ways. “The usual experience by very confident distilleries around the world is that New American oak can be too much for most because of the climate that it is made. We had to have an awful lot of confidence in ourselves to go against that body of knowledge and to ideally, add to the body of knowledge of rum.”

Cabot went on to explain, “we had to find our own confidence to know who we were to dial into it.” He continued, “the fact that we appeal to that person who loves the style of American spirits more broadly. We’re very fortunate to get to participate in that legacy.”

The Future  

Privateer Rum is continuing to expand and has just taken over a 40,000-square-foot building for storage which great news because there will be even more rum on the horizon.

Privateer Rum is always striving to be better as well as keeping transparency at the core of their brand. “We’re always up to something,” said Cabot. The future of their New England style rum is shifting more towards four-year rum as their minimum age. “We really love what happens after the fourth and fifth year.” 

Privateer will also have its first 7-year release early next year. Cabot hinted the distillery will have a few more surprises. 

The Taste

I was able to try several of Privateer’s core range which includes the New England White Rum, the New England Reserve Rum, the Navy Yard Barrel Proof and the Queen’s Share 4 year. According to their website, the rums are made with molasses sourced from sugar cane grown in a single valley in Guatemala. They focus on transparency in their processes and do not use additives.

New England White Rum

Privateer Rum White

The white rum is proofed down to 40% abv. On the nose is ripe banana, sugar, vanilla and wheat. The aroma is similar to banana pudding with wafers. The taste is quite neutral but still has the banana with a hint of vanilla and wheat. The finish is quick and clean. Overall, a nice smooth, almost neutral spirit that could be used in any number of cocktails. 

New England Reserve Rum

Privateer Rum Reserve

The reserve has aged a minimum of 2 years and is proofed to 45% abv. The smell is wood, brown sugar, toffee and caramel. On the palate is vanilla, wood with a nice body. The finish lingers with a slight woody bitterness. This rum is great for fans of bourbon and makes for a great old-fashioned cocktail. 

Navy Yard Barrel Proof 

Privateer Rum Barrel Proof

The alcohol percentage depends on the barrel and the batch, this one is 55.7% abv. There is a fragrance of caramel apples, sweet butter and syrup. The first taste is of rich Madagascar vanilla and then clove with pepperiness. It has a medium finish that is sweet and woody. Overall, very sippable for a high-proof rum. 

The Queen’s Share 4 year

Privateer Rum Queen's Share 4 Year

The Queen’s Share has an abv of 56.8%. The scent is fresh apples and dates. Flavors of maple syrup, fig and wood coat the plate with a medium body. It finishes peppery with a raisin sweetness. This rum is approachable for fans of brandy, cognac and whiskey. It brings something to the table for everyone.


The aroma and tasting notes are the opinions of the author.

Current house reviews for Privateer Rum are here.

Keep a look out for more house reviews of these rums.


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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.