Tastemaker: Maggie Campbell, Head Distiller at Privateer Rum
Maggie Campbell is on a mission. As Head Distiller at Privateer Rum in Ipswich, Mass., Maggie has carved out a niche for herself in the ever-changing, fast-paced spirit industry. I had a chance to chat with her, I was so invigorated by her curiosity and dedication.
You could say that Maggie fell into the world of spirits. Armed with a formal wine education, Maggie had plans to specialize and establish roots in the wine industry. However, while working in a boutique wine shop in Denver, she realized how little she knew about spirits – and how little education was available to the public. Maggie began visiting local distilleries in Colorado, soaking up as much information as she could. She would bring pastrami sandwiches or mixed CDs (oh, the early 2000’s) so that she could get past the door. During this period, Maggie met some important people in her life including Tom Leopold of Leopold Brothers, who suggested that she go to the Siebel Institute, which was famous for its brewing program, but was offering initial courses on distillation. She was sold.
Fast forward several years and Maggie found herself moving to Boston to head up Privateer’s distillation process. Privateer is dedicated to making rum a fine spirit, a project that Maggie was immediately drawn to. Additionally, she was struck by how supportive and engaged the local community was, as she told me, “Boston is really lucky. So much of the business (of spirits) can be ‘pay to play’ and local bartenders are really great about not making that the case.”
I was curious to learn where Maggie spends her time outside of the distillery. What are her favorite bars? She frequents Somerville favorites backbar and Sarma – both bars have drinks named after her!
So, what’s next for Maggie and Privateer? Privateer recently expanded and have reinvested into the distillery and space. They are open for public tours and Maggie emphasized how important it is for them to invite the community in and show them where these products are made. It’s an intimate experience.
After my conversation with Maggie, one thing is certain: the business of spirits is stronger than ever.
Images courtesy of Privateer Rum.