What shall we do with the drunken sailor? - serve him a Caipirinha
From 1655 until 1970 the British Royal Navy served sailors a daily ration of rum, prior to that beer was served but that often spoiled on long voyages. Once Britain had colonised the Caribbean rum was served and each sailor was given a pint a day. Funnily enough this resulted in a lot of accidents and drunkenness and Admiral Vernon issued an order stating that:
“unanimous opinion of both Captains and Surgeons that the pernicious custom of the seaman drinking their allowance of rum in drams, and often at once, is attended with many fatal effects to their morals as well as their health … besides the ill consequences of stupifying [sic] their rational qualities … You are hereby required and directed … that the respective daily allowance … be every day mixed with the proportion of a quart of water to a half pint of rum, to be mixed in a scuttled butt kept for that purpose, and to be done upon the deck, and in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Watch who is to take particular care to see that the men are not defrauded in having their full allowance of rum… and let those that are good husbanders receive extra lime juice and sugar that it be made more palatable to them.”The drink was nicknamed grog and gave us the word "groggy" as you'd expect to feel after a pint of rum.
Over time the amount of rum served was reduced until it was finally halted on July 31st 1970, Black Tot Day when the Royal Navy finally conceded that drinking high % rum and operating warships was a pretty bad idea.
A few years later a Canadian entrepreneur persuaded the Admiralty to sell him the recipe for navy rum and this is what Pusser's is today, more than 50% of the profits go to various naval charities including the Royal Naval Sailors fund and the US Navy Memorial Foundation amongst others.
So, to the booze:
- 54.5% ABV (in UK, believe it’s around 42 - 43% in US)
- Around £30 a bottle
- A blend of rums from stills in Guyana and Trinidad
- Aged a minimum of 3 years
- No added sugars or other flavourings
- Initially on the nose you get a huge alcohol hit, as you’d expect at that ABV but as it warms in the glass spicy orange, ginger, pepper, oak and a little bit of vanilla come through
- Taste wise there’s a peppery, burnt caramel warmth with a smokiness once the alcohol hit melts away, a lot smoother going down than you’d necessarily expect it to be
- The finish is long and lingering with an overall smokey note being the last to go
As with cask strength whiskies you can sip this neat and it’s good, but a drop of water really does open it up and mellow off some of the rougher edges. A bottle of this will last you a long time, a glass or two of an evening will take the edge off nicely or after a good meal but it’s definitely not a session rum.
That being said some things should be savoured, enjoyed over time and this is certainly one of them.