Maggie Campbell is the head distiller at Privateer Rum in Ipswich, Massachusetts. It’s an impressive title, but one that was not easily acquired in the male-dominated spirits industry.
She admits that “female visibility in the spirits industry is very skewed,” and that drama, competition and a sometimes exclusionary energy is par for the course in a small industry such as hers.
Being one of the small but growing number of female distillers in the country, Maggie acknowledges that her “accomplishments in this realm are often noted only after the qualifying label of ‘female’ first.” However, she hopes to make clear that she got to where she was because of her passion and expertise.
I asked Maggie whether she had any advice for aspiring female distillers.
“Be proud of your work, claim your accomplishments and become visible as a great distiller,” she says. “I’ve had to teach my own instincts and do what makes me happy (which is distill high-quality rum)—not what makes others happy.”
And it’s easy to see how much Maggie really does love her work by the way she excitedly describes the process. “I’m fanatical about barrels,” she says. “I like to use both new and used bourbon barrels and mix and match to experiment with flavors (sometimes as many as 23 barrels).” And on the distillery’s location in Ipswich, Maggie gleefully explains that “the salty air gets soaked up by the barrels as they respirate. It gives the rum a briny bite that makes your mouth water.”
Maggie takes a lot of pride in what she creates. Privateer Rum, she told me, is crafted in “small batches, with a passion for perfection bordering on obsession.” She’s incredibly passionate about what she does, and wants to share that passion with others—tours of the Privateer distillery will launch this fall.
Finally, I asked her what her favorite rum-based cocktails were. Ladies and gentlemen, the Planter’s Punch:
Planter’s Punch by Beachbum Berry (for sunset drinking)
1oz Privateer Amber True American Rum
1oz Privateer Silver Reserve Rum
1oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2oz Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, give a quick shake and serve over crushed ice. Garnish as you see fit.
Photos courtesy of Privateer Rum.