The 31st July is now widely known as Black Tot Day. This is because on the 31st July 1970 the Royal Navy issued the last daily ration of rum for the sailors. It was probably a good move considering the equipment involved, although the practice of a tot of rum goes back to 1655. Back then it was half a pint of rum twice a day. I would struggle to drink that much rum in a month. By 1970 it had been reduced to 90ml, which is still a good sized measure.
I’ve been a fan of good quality rum for many years. I used to work in a student pub in Oxford for many years and I had done a favour for one of the regulars and a couple of days later he offered to buy me a shot. He noticed that we sold Goslings Black Seal Dark Rum, and after telling me that his family owned it, we had a shot together. He downed his but I sipped it and found it to be a very pleasant drink. Goslings like to promote themselves as a family run business, although in fact only about 20% is owned by the Gosling family. Seeing as my friend from the pub was Nathaniel Rothschild, there is a very good possibility that his family did own the brand, or still do.
Last night, to celebrate Black Tot Day me and my wife each had a small glass of Premise single blended rum made by the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. 46% alcohol and aged in oak casks for ten years. I raised my glass to the memory of my father’s father, who died before I was born. He and his three brothers were all career sailors, so that might be why rum is my spirit of choice.
If you wanted to try something a bit more ‘Navy’, then Pusser’s 15 year old dark rum is seriously good, although the whole Pusser’s range is worth looking out for.
If you have a few thousand spare, then you can still find the old bottle of original navy rum, and the Whisky Exchange sell bottles blended with some of the original rum for £650 a bottle. It is very unlikely that I will ever try it.