Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.”
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The British Navy and their Passion for Rum
British sailors endured a hard life in the day of canvas upon the wind. Supplies were scarce and the never ending work to keep the ship afloat was a wearying task. The food would quickly spoil. Rats would have their way with supplies, and the water would get slimy and undrinkable. To stem the putrid water, the sailors would receive a mix of rum and water - known as grog. From 1650 sailors would receive this portion to hydrate and placate the sometimes difficult crew. Though officers tried wine and beer, these beverages would spoil on long voyages.
“The daily allowance of half a pint a man is to be mixed with a quart of water, to be mixed in one Scuttled Butt kept for that purpose, and to be done upon Deck, and in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Watch, who is to see that the men are not defrauded of their allowance of Rum; it is to be served in two servings, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The men that are good Husbands may from the savings of their Salt Provisions and Bread, purchase Sugar and Limes to make the water more palatable to them.”
— Admiral Vernon’s Official Order on August 21, 1740 on Her Majesty’s Ship Burford in the Port Royal Harbor.
Edward Vernon went by the nickname “Old Grog” because of his heavy grogram cloak made out of a mixture of silk, mohair and wool.
Black Tot Day.
As the 1960’s were ending, the Admiralty Board looked into discipline problems associated with alcohol. The board felt the ration was no longer appropriate. On July 31, 1970, the British Royal Navy ended a centuries-old hallowed tradition: the issuing a daily dram of liquor to sailors aboard its ships. Many sailors wore a black armband, indicating the death of a fellow sailor. Other ships carried out a funeral procession with a burial at sea.
The Drammed Truth - Pusser’s : Black Label Gunpowder Proof
From the “Masters of Mal Website” -
Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label (previously known as Blue Label) is a higher proof traditional British Naval rum, produced using the blending recipe from the Admiralty. Well loved, it picked up a Trophy at the International Spirits Challenge 2016.
Alcohol: 70cl / 54.5%
Color: Medium amber color
Bouquet: Overtones of molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg
This is a higher proof rum than their standard rum. On the first sip, you can feel the warmth as it races to your stomach. For those who want something with a bite (since we are talking sailors - not to be confused with bight!), this will be your "go to" rum. For a medium amber color, this has a hearty taste. There is the faintest hint of vanilla, but the oaky burn takes that over. Unless you inhale with that on the tongue, you might miss it.
This has a long finish. They call it their Gunpowder rum (sailors would mix the rum with gunpowder and set it on fire to test the proof quality of the casks of rum before placing them on-board). The swallow goes right to the nose. I love the fireworks. When I'm in a drinking move, this is a great selection.
The molasses and oak give this a traditional British flavor which makes Pusser's rum so popular. Let the flavor settle in the sinuses and wait for the cherry finish. If you are novice, this might be a tad overwhelming. However, for those with history of rum, I highly recommend Pusser's rum.