British Royal Navy Rum One Imperial Gallon
Rum and the sea are inseparable, and no rum is more akin to the sea and the sailor than Pusser's Rum–the Original Navy Rum. For more than 300 years, from the earliest days of wooden ships and iron men, sailors of Great Britain's Royal Navy were issued a daily ration–or "tot"–of rum by the ship's "Purser" (corrupted by the sailors to Pusser's). Prior to 1740, the men's daily tot of Pusser's Rum was a pint a day, which they drank neat, that is without water! Before battle, they were issued a double 'tot', and always after victory for a job well done! From 1655 to the 19th century, Pusser's Rum was one of the few daily comforts afforded those early seamen of Britain's Navy as they fought around the globe to keep the Empire intact and its sea lanes open. It was not until July 31st, 1970 that the Admiralty Board abolished the daily issue of Pusser's Rum. "Times had changed", they said as they concluded that "in a highly sophisticated navy no risk for margin or error which might be attributable to rum could be allowed". And so it was that the daily issue of Pusser's Rum, which had stood the test of time as the Navy's longest serving tradition for over 300 years, was cast aside like a piece of flotsam and jetsam where it lay quietly until 1979.
In 1979, Charles Tobias–entrepreneur, global sailor, raconteur–sought to resurrect the Pusser's Rum tradition. He obtained the rights and all the blending information from the Admiralty, and formed Pusser's Ltd. on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and began bottling and selling this storied spirit in 1980 to the public for the first time. (Prior to then, it was restricted to the Royal Navy). British Navy Pusser's Rum is the same Admiralty blend of five West Indian rums as issued on board British warships, and it is with the Admiralty's blessing and approval that Pusser's is now available to the consumer.
The Royal Navy Sailor's Fund, a naval charity more commonly called the "Tot Fund" receives a substantial donation from the sale of each bottle of British Navy Pusser's Rum. Aside from the fund's original bequest, the Pusser's contribution has become the fund's largest source of income.
Today's Pusser's Rum, known as "the single malt of rum" is still produced in exact accordance with the Admiralty's specifications for rum. Unlike most rums, Pusser's uses no flavoring agents. It is 100% natural. In 2001, Pusser's was awarded the "Gold Medal - World's Premier Dark Rum" at the International Wine & Spirits Festival. In 2003, Pusser's Rum won a "Double Gold Medal" at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a Gold Medal at the same festival in 2005.
Charles Tobias continues today as CEO of Pusser's and its legendary rum, which is said by experts and epicureans alike to be rich and full-bodied, with an unsurpassed smoothness due to its natural ingredients. Pusser's costs a little more because it is more expensive to produce. It is predominantly a "pot-stilled" rum. The distillation process is similar to that used for single malt scotches, which produces greatly enhanced flavor. Served neat or on the rocks, or mixed in a famous Caribbean inspired recipe–such as the Pusser's Painkiller®—you will enjoy the full and natural flavor of Pusser's Rum - and will really discern the big difference between Pusser's and all other rums!
Pusser's Rum History
For well over 300 years, Great Britain's Royal Navy issued a daily "tot" of Pusser's Rum to the crews of their ships - and always a double issue before battle and after victory! First introduced into the Navy in 1655 as a substitute for beer, by 1731, it was in general use.
And the name Pusser's? Nothing more than a corruption of the word "purser". On board ship, the purser was responsible for ship's stores - including the rum. Everything that came from the purser was called "Pusser's" -- and still is today. Hence the name Pusser's Rum!
The history of rum in Great Britain's Royal Navy was largely that of social change, both in England and the Royal Navy. From 1650 throughout the 18th century, shipboard life was incredibly difficult. The daily issue of Pusser's Rum was the highlight of the day. Then, too in those days, battles were fought "eyeball-to-eyeball". The mental alertness and courage required to pack a cannonball into a muzzle loader were far different from that required to operate the modern weapon systems of today. Thus in 1970, the Admiralty Board decreed that there was no place for the daily issue of rum in a modern navy, and so ended the daily issue of Pusser's Rum in the Royal Navy on July31st,1970. This date since then, is referred to "Black Tot Day". The rum issue, one of the longest and unbroken traditions in seafaring history, ended as the last tot of Pusser's was drunk on board Their Majesties Ships. "Round the world" in every ship of the Navy, glasses were raised in their final salute. 'The Queen'!", they said, and it's no exaggeration to say that at that moment many a strong man shed a tear at the passing of a tradition so old and fine, that was to be no more.
On the Origin of "Grog" and Vernon's Orders
Over the centuries, the amount of rum changed from time to time. Prior to 1740, Pusser's Rum was issued to the men neat, that is without water. They received 1/2-pint twice daily! Admiral Vernon (pictured at right), the hero of Portobello and the Commander-in-Chief, West Indies Station was very much concerned with what he called the swinish vice of drunkenness which he believed was caused by the men drinking their daily allowance of rum neat, that is without water. He believed that if the same amount of rum was mixed with water, and then consumed that it would reduce drunkenness and discipline problems for which the punishment could be brutal. Thus he issued his infamous Order to Captains No. 349 on August 21, 1740. His order stated that the daily allowance of rum "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 husband men receive extra lime juice and sugar that it be made more palatable to them."
The sailors, or "Jack Tars" had affectionately nicknamed Admiral Vernon "Old Grog" from the "grogram" cloak he often wore on the quarter deck. The watered rum gave great offence to the men, and soon they began referring to it contemptuously as "Grog" from the name they'd already provided Admiral Vernon. Thus, true Grog is Pusser's Rum and water with lime juice and sugar!
The "scuttled butt" in Vernon's Order eventually became the "Grog Tub" from which the daily Grog was issued. Petty Officers received their Pusser's Rum 'neat' directly from the Spirit Room at 1100 hours daily when the bos'n piped "Up Spirits!" to herald the event. The issue of Grog to the rest of the sailors followed one hour later.
Changes in the Issue
The ration - or tot - was later increased to two parts water and one part rum, and in 1756, the daily ration of Pusser's Rum was increased to one pint per day, per man. Finally, just before the tot ritual ended in 1970, it was reduced to one-eighth pint.
Over the more than 300 years that Pusser's Rum was issued on board ships of the Royal Navy, a whole litany of special terminology grew up around it. (see Pusser's Folklore). Pusser's Rum became a form of currency, a way to pay off old debts or to reward a shipmate for a favor. Even card games were played for rum. Pusser's Rum had a value that was defined by such terms as "a wet", "sipper", "gulper" and "sandy bottoms", all used to define the amount.