Review: Privateer Distiller’s Drawer – The Queen’s Share Barrel P421

Privateer Rum is a company in Ipswich, Massachusetts, that distills… rum. Some time in the last couple years I picked up a bottle of their rum while on vacation, which I enjoyed, but more recently they’ve become available in Illinois. I was able to procure a bottle of their Queen’s Share rum, released as part of their Distiller’s Drawer single-batch releases. This Distiller’s Drawer release is marked as part of Barrel P421.

There is actually a long history of rum manufacture in New England, starting from before the American Revolution. This is primarily owed to the relationship between the continental colonies and the colonies in the Caribbean during that time, which meant that ships took a trip south with all sorts of supplies (food, manufactured goods) for the colonies growing sugar cane, and then returned north with molasses, which was largely considered a useless byproduct of sugar manufacture. An interesting note about all this: the “New England rum” was cheaper and less desirable than rum from the West Indies. It was basically the equivalent of bottom-shelf liquor. 

The rum in this bottle is very interesting in a number of ways. One of the first things you’ll notice is that it’s in a 375ml bottle, but still came in at the upper-$30 range. It’s aged only 2 years, which (especially in a continental climate) is not super long. Not only that – the aging took place in New American Oak barrels, as opposed to the used barrels most rum is aged in.  It was bottled at 53.6% ABV.

Given all that, I expected this rum to be a bit unique, and it was. The first thing I noticed was that the nose has very, very prominent oak and wood notes – so much so that I had trouble picking anything else out. Taste-wise, it was a similar story – the oak was very strong and overwhelmed everything else, with a tannic aftertaste. All this isn’t to say it’s bad rum – it’s just very reminiscent of a bourbon due to the strong oak profile. It was also surprisingly smooth for a young rum.

When trying to evaluate this rum overall, the term that comes to mind is “polarizing.” I could see this being a huge hit for some people, but part of the thing I don’t like about bourbon is the often-overwhelming oak flavor. I might even guess this was a bourbon during a blind taste test. If this sounds like it’s up your alley, go ahead and give this a try – but if you’re looking for something with a more traditional rum profile, maybe pick something else up.