After running an illegal, off-grid rum still in Panama, starting in 2012, Birmingham, Alabama native Hatton Smith II returned to the US in 2018 to start a revolutionary rum business, Campesino Rum.
Campesino Rum can be found in bars and restaurants across Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee in part due to the efforts of several Birmingham bars. “Campesino wouldn’t be a thing without Birmingham,” says Hatton. When Campesino first started, Birmingham bars went to bat for the brand to be approved by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. In turn, Hatton is a big advocate for Birmingham’s food and beverage industry.
While Hatton may not currently be distilling his rum in Panama, you wouldn’t know it from looking at him. Hatton’s formative time in the tropics is reflected in his signature wardrobe. While at Campesino events, Hatton’s uniform emulates the look made popular by The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. For everyday wear, Hatton has his favorite pair of jeans, one pair of boots, and one Campesino t-shirt. “I live on the road, I have to pack light,” he says. While Hatton might not care for material things, he does care about Campesino’s rum being “unadulterated.”
Hatton believes “Rum can be something everyone can enjoy” and is a spirit that deserves the same attention and recognition as bourbon or agave spirits. One of the ways Campesino strives to offer the best quality rum is by not sweetening or coloring it like other brands. Campesino’s growing popularity and Hatton’s wandering spirit might keep him on the road, but when he is home, Hatton’s favorite stops in Birmingham run along 1st and 2nd Avenue North. Places like Cayo Coco, Paper Doll Bar, and El Barrio are used to the rum man frequenting their bar stools.
Meet Hatton at these Harvest Wine & Food Festival events:
Daytrader Cocktail Brunch presented by the Henry Haus and 360 Blue - 10.22.23