Pusser’s Rum marks Black Tot Day At Navy Days In England

by admin on August 2, 2010

We marked the 40th anniversary of Black Tot Day with a re-enactment of the daily rum tot on July 30 next to HMS Victory on at the first of three Portsmouth Navy Days celebrating the senior service.  Black Tot Day (31st July 1970) mourned by many, was the day the Admiralty ended the centuries old tradition of issuing a daily tot of rum to serving sailors of the Royal Navy. The final Up Spirits took place between 11am and 12 noon when the last measure of Pusser’s Rum was served to the crews of Royal Navy ships.

The Pusser’s Rum re-enactment crew, dressed in naval gear of Nelson’s period, were accompanied by the Exmouth Shanty Men singing famous old sea songs such as ‘All for me Grog’ and ‘Nelson’s Blood’.  The songs recall the creation of grog (a mix of rum, lime juice and sugar) and the death of Nelson whose body was shipped back to England in a rum cask to preserve it after the battle of Trafalgar. Legend says that the barrel was dry when opened. Thirsty sailors had bored a hole and, literally, drunk Nelson’s blood.

Black Tot Day ended an enshrined 300-year tradition in which the daily rum measure shrank from half a pint a day from its introduction in the 17th century (the standard measure right up to the latter part of the 19th century), to one eighth of a pint (equivalent to three measures) of 54.5% ABV Caribbean rum. The rum was watered down in the Scuttlebutt and either drunk on the spot or collected in a rum fanny for the sailors’ mess.

But while the tradition has gone, as you all know, Pusser’s Rum survives!  In appreciation to the Admiralty for allowing me to launch Pusser’s Rum to the public in 1979, Pusser’s  donates a royalty on every bottle sold to a Tot Fund to provide on-shore amenities for serving sailors.  To date, more than £1 million has been donated and is its largest source of income other than the interest earned by the Fund’s capital.

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