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Black Tot Rum Tasting

Our luck in Philly continued last Friday when we were summoned to a belated Black Tot Day celebration and tasting of the super-rare Black Tot Rum.

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Mike iconDrinking History
by Mike Streeter

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A 300 year old Royal Navy tradition came to an end on July 31st, 1970 when the last daily rum ration was served to enlisted  sailors.  That day became known as Black Tot Day and is observed annually by historians and rum enthusiasts alike; usually with plenty of singing, time-honored toasts, and Navy-style rum.

The Black Tot celebration at Rum Bar began with several rounds of Navy grog shortly followed by shots of Pusser’s British Navy Rum.  Good cheer ensued and an endless array of traditional Navy toasts were called out.  ”To sweethearts and wives, may they never meet” seemed to be our favorite.

Belated Black Tot Day
Shot of Pusser's
Cheers

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At one point our friend and noted author, Ian Williams, broke into song with “It was 40 years ago today, the Navy took the rum away” to the tune of the old Beatles song, of course.  He followed with a laid back account of Navy folklore and history.  As a writer and rum expert, there’s no better person to explain Royal Navy tradition.  Ok, the British accent helped create the mood as well.

Ian Williams & Adam Kanter
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Later in the evening, a bottle of Black Tot Rum made its way from a perch on the very top shelf of Rum Bar’s stock to a cozy spot in front of us, encircled by several large snifters.  The story of this super-rare rum is an interesting one.  When the Royal Navy ended the daily rum ration in 1970, the remaining stock of rum was put into storage and left to rest for nearly 40 years sealed in imperial stone flagons.  That same rum was discovered, rebottled and released on July 31st, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Black Tot Day.

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Ian Williams and Adam Kanter did the honors of opening the well-sealed bottle and poured a sample for everyone in our party.  We slowly savored the “liquid history” of Black Tot and marveled at its unique character and complexity.  Terms like “big,” “bold,” and “beautiful” were thrown around and we all agreed that rum of this quality was rare without question.  Another series of toasts were called out and the evening continued to unfold with high spirits and the company of good friends.

So, next year on July 31st, remember that dark day in 1970 when at “6 bells in the forenoon watch” the final rum ration was served.  A very dark day indeed.  Cheers!!