Pusser's Rum is a brand name of rum produced by Pussers Rum Ltd. "Pusser" is Royal Navy slang for a purser, a ship's supply officer, now called a Logistics Officer. Thus the word came to connote "one hundred per cent Service," as in "pusser's issue." "Pusser's issue" applies to anything supplied by the Royal Navy, such as a "pusser's grip", a canvas bag that sailors may use instead of a suitcase (it folds flat and is thus easy to stow on board ship). Pusser's Rum is sometimes known as Nelson's blood, in honour of Horatio Nelson, a famed Royal Navy commander.
In 1979, nearly a decade after the Royal Navy abandoned the custom of the daily tot of rum, company founder Charles Tobias obtained the rights to blending information associated with the naval rum ration and formed the company to produce the spirit according to the original Admiralty recipe, a blend of five West Indian rums without colouring agents. The Royal Navy Sailor's Fund, a Navy charity, receives royalties from the proceeds of each bottle of the rum sold. Today, these proceeds are the charity's largest source of income, apart from the founder's original bequest.
The Royal Navy issued the last tot to "the fleet" on 31 July 1970. Since then, this has been known in Royal Naval Slang as "Black Tot Day." The remaining rum stocks were put up for auction. They were bought by Brian Cornford, shipped to Gibraltar and held in a secure bonded warehouse. As each visiting Royal Navy ship visited Gibraltar, it was the task of Cornford and his General Manager, John Kania, to supply individual, wax-dated, corked, wicker-covered demijohns containing full strength (approx 110 proof) to the ships. When the individual gallon jars were finally sold, the large wooden barrels were tapped. It was found that over the years some of the contents in each wood barrel had evaporated, and diluted the strength to a slight degree, though some would say it simply mellowed. The barrelled rum was decanted into litre bottles and sold primarily to RN, RAF and Army messes and selected local Gib pubs.
Some Genuine Royal Navy Rum still pops up in premium auction houses, and apart from the collectability aspect, the contents are vintage, and because of the wax seal is still as powerful as the day it was bottled. It is rarely seen, though bought at auction (the last time for GBP 1250) for special ceremonial events. This is not to be confused with the commercially bottled Pusser's Rum seen on supermarket shelves dated after 1970.
Part of the reason Pusser's Rum has been successful, some say,[who?] is because it has some characteristics in common with a scotch whisky, despite it being distilled from molasses. This may have been a result of the British Navy developing a scotchlike rum to meet the tastes of enlisted men at the time.
In the decades leading up to "The Black Day," it became common for Royal Navy sailors to give a portion of their rum ration to a shipmate on their birthday, or for a favour. The donor would indicate how much he was allowing the other to take with one of the following phrases:
- "Sippers" - Take a sip.
- "Gulpers" - Take a gulp.
- "Sandy Bottoms" - Drink it all.
- "Grounder" personal during National Service 1949/50 (though this has nothing whatsoever to do with the black day, or drinking of rum)
There was never a commercial BRITISH NAVY PUSSER’S RUM. It was the brainchild of Charles Tobias to commercialize the Royal Navy’s rum tradition by offering for sale the same rum that the navy had issued on board its ships for so many years. The Navy is known to abhor commercialism of any kind, and so it was quite an achievement that Tobias was able to obtain these rights.
At Tobias’ insistence, the Royal Navy Sailors’ Fund, a naval charity more commonly called the ‘Tot’ Fund, receives a substantial donation from the worldwide sales of Pusser’s Rum. After almost 25 years, this Pusser’s contribution has become the fund’s largest source of income aside from its original bequest, and the ties between Pusser’s Rum and the Royal Navy continue today in a manner that benefits serving Royal Navy sailors.
Pusser's Rum Blue label, 40% Alc/Vol
Sensory Notes: The color is a rich mahogany, though clear. The aroma is a burst of classic Demerara with a wonderful mix of brown sugar and molasses. Notes of leather, tobacco, dried sultanas, nutmeg, clove, and cassia. The aroma finishes with soft oak, caramel, and rich English toffee.
Pusser's Rum Blue label, 42% Alc/Vol
Pusser's Rum 'Gunpowder Proof' Black label, 54.5% Alc/Vol
Pusser’s Rum “Overproof” Green Label, 75% Alc/Vol
Pusser’s Rum Aged 15 Years 80 proof, 40% Alc/Vol
Fermentation: Pusser’s relies on natural fermentation in open vats, where yeasts inherent in the environment ferment the sugars. Fermentation time is a three-stage propagation that is done over 72 hours.
Sensory Notes: Pusser’s 15 Year True Aged Rum has a rich chestnut mahogany color, crystal clear clarity with no sediment, and is luxuriously full bodied. The taste delivers what the complex aroma promises, beginning with a burst of classic Demerera brown sugar, molasses and caramel. Notes of leather, tobacco, dried sultanas, nutmeg, clove, cassia and soft oak follow. The finish is exceptionally smooth, complex and lingering.
Pusser’s Spiced Rum, 35% Alc/Vol
The Blend: Rum steeped to perfection with locally sourced Caribbean Spices creates a delightfully complex and layered spiced rum.
Sensory Notes: The color is a rich golden amber. This lively, aromatic spiced rum first provides distinct notes of fresh culinary ginger and cinnamon, followed by layers of orange zest and baking spices such as nutmeg and allspice. Pusser’s Spiced Rum is not a typical spiced rum and has been crafted with great care resulting in a spiced rum of superb quality.
Pusser’s Rum is the only rum blended in exact accordance with the Royal Navy specification last used when it discontinued its daily ration on July 31, 1970—ending a tradition that lasted over 300 years. Aged for a minimum of three years, this Admiralty rum blend is rich and full-bodied, with an unsurpassed smoothness due to its “pot-stilled” lineage.
Pusser’s Rum is the product of five stills, three in Guyana and two in Trinidad. The rums are artfully blended to create the perfect balance of naturally occurring flavoring compounds known as “esters” and “congeners.” Unlike most rums, Pusser’s is all natural and is never artificially flavored or colored.
The molasses used in each of the contributing stills comes from sugar cane grown in the Demerara River Valley—once the home of 300 sugar cane estates each with its own distillery. This geographic region has been highly renowned for its production and world-wide distribution of sugar since the 1600s. It is often referred to as the “Valley of Navy Rum”.
The Admiralty blend has been heavily influenced by rum distilled from two high capacity wooden pot stills which first went into production in 1732. Although relocated and refurbished over the years, they continue to be the bedrock of Navy Rum and the vital part of the distillation process that produces superbly enhanced aroma and flavor.
The Amazon “Greenwood” staves of these old wooden pot stills have absorbed decades of unique, organic flavoring compounds, that provide a deep flavor far beyond that of mass-produced rums.
Following distillation, quality dark rums are aged for some time in wood because aging in wood imparts additional smoothness and flavor. But unlike other rums which are bland and tasteless out of the still, Pusser’s begins its aging process with a rich flavor already in place from the wooden pot still distillation — an extraordinary head start over anything distilled in metal. The rich flavor of Pusser’s Rum is all natural, no coloring or artificial flavoring agents are added.
Like single malt whiskeys that are also pot stilled, Pusser’s is more costly to produce. Automated continuous metal column stills are 99% efficient whereas the wooden pot stills are slower and only 60% efficient. Pusser’s measures production in days and weeks, not hours. But nothing can touch the flavor that wood imparts to rum that is distilled this way. It certainly wouldn’t be a Navy Rum; and it wouldn’t be Pusser’s Rum. It is still the same Admiralty rum, the original Navy Rum, as it has been for more than 300 years.
- Top 95 Percentile of Rums (Pusser's Gunpowder Proof Rum), Proof66, Fall 2014
- Gold Medal Winner, Best Dark Rum, London 2001
- Gold Winner, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005
- Double Gold Winner, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2003
- Gold Medal Winner, IWSC International Wine and Spirit Competition 2011
- Double Gold Winner, The Fifty Best, New York 2012
- Rick Jolly, Jackspeak: A Guide to British Naval Slang & Usage, FoSAMMA (2000), ISBN 0-9514305-2-1