Brand: Privateer, Letter of Marque series
Origin: Privateer Distilling, Ipswich, MA, USA (picked by Friends of Rum TN & Advintage)
Still: Pot, Column
Age: 5 years
Finish: New American Oak
It's the inaugural Memphis Rum Club review, and I thought this would be the perfect way to kick off the new year, and why not start out with a single-barrel release picked right in my backyard! (Well, not quite literally)
After seeing many iterations of Privateer's Letter of Marque (private barrel selections) and Distiller's Drawer (limited and/or experimental releases) pop up on /r/rum, I had been dying to get my hands on some cool bottles in these product lines. I finally got the chance to buy a one each of the Distiller's Drawer Bottled in Bond versions of the Queen's Share and New England Rum when visiting Chicago last summer; trying these really got me excited about Privateer yet sad that I couldn't get any of their other releases in Tennessee. Thankfully, that sadness did not last very long!
One of the most recent Letters of Marque releases by the renowned American distillery Privateer, For Our Friends is a barrel pick made by my friends in the Friends of Rum Tennessee (aka "FORT") group, along with some reps from Advintage distributing. Wow, did they do a great job! This is a 5 years old distillate, aged in a New American Oak barrel (P349), produced in a singular process through an American pot still, then finished in a German column still.
The For our Friends release and Privateer's launch in Tennessee was kicked off with a visit and guided tasting by Privateer owner Andrew Cabot at the always-entertaining Chopper tiki bar in Nashville. I was able to make a quick trip to participate in this tasting, socialize with some rum friends (including Will from the Rumcast!), and try some unique drams. I came back to Memphis with my bottle of For Our Friends and a renewed excitement about what's in store for rum in Tennessee.
Now, onto the review!
Honey gold, medium clarity, light viscosity
Wet oak, honey syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, stewed fruit (cherries), frosting
Vanilla, black pepper, cinnamon, muddled maraschino cherry, strawberry jam, browned butter, grilled citrus
Medium length, alcohol burn shows up in the middle; heavy oak influence
This is a truly excellent bottle of rum. It stands alongside other Letter of Marque and Distiller's Drawer releases at the forefront of American rum, and innovative rum at that, and features a lot of the signature aspects of the Privateer brand.
At 118.8 proof, this is quite sippable, neat, even if it provides a lingering alcohol burn on the middle-back of the palate. You won't pay too much attention to that, since the tannic yet moist finish full of that New American Oak and some dried fruit beckons you to take another sip, and restart the process with a kick of vanilla, cinnamon, and variously pulverized fruit at the front.
My only drawback is that the alcohol burn is a bit intense, which is not out of place at a near 60% ABV rum, but does mean that this may be a challenging session sipper. As a non-expert, I would suggest that this is also affected by the first-fill oak finish (with no information about char level, if any); without having a bourbon, port, or other spirit to soften the impact of the barrel, the woody characteristics are translated along with the high proof into a forceful– yet delicious– palate and mouthfeel. This may not be a drawback, as I shared a pour of this with my Dad over thanksgiving– who typically drinks a form of whiskey and doesn't drink much rum aside from Ron Zacapa– and he greatly enjoyed it.
Reviewing some of the technical details, this bottling is somewhat unique as it is aged for 5 years, whereas many Distiller's Drawer (as described on Privateer's website) up to the 2021 releases have been aged somewhere in the 2-3 year range, with only a few creeping into the 4 year range and older. I for one am very interested to see older vintages released in the future, and see how they play with the barrels they're finished in.
In closing, I would definitely recommend this bottle to anyone looking for a nice American rum, a rum to introduce to your bourbon friends, or as an addition to your growing single-cask rum collection.
Where to Buy
- 901 Wine & Spirits (Memphis, TN)