50 Years since ‘the day the rum died’
This year marked 50 years since the “barbaric act by the government” (former Royal Navy Store Accountant, John Hume) of ending the 200-year-old tradition of granting sailors a daily ration (known as a “tot”) of rum. To mark this, the darkest of days, seamen donned black armbands and held funerals on board to mark ‘the day the rum died’, forever more known as ‘Black Tot Day’.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary – and following the incredible 24-hour rum tasting that marked the actual 50th anniversary on 31st July – the team at Elixir Distillers decided to create a limited edition Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum, which pays tribute to the original Navy blend, bringing together some of the great lost rums of the past with the amazing modern distillates of today.
Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum
The release of just 5,000 bottles marries rums from the four cornerstones of the Royal Navy blend: Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad. Naturally, this blend has been bottled at full Navy issuing Strength, and amazingly contains a small percentage of the original, historic Navy Rum blend itself!
Perhaps most notably – or at least we got very excited when we saw this – is the rum’s back label, which lays out all the components of this limited edition blend. Bright young rums meet old and exceptionally rare elements from lost distilleries in a feat of artful blending that takes the drinker on an undulating journey through flavours, countries and ages.
Mitch Wilson (Global Brand Ambassador for Black Tot Rum) states,
“I don’t believe it should be a secret recipe. I believe the way you appreciate a rum blend is to know exactly what went in it and to see these incredible distilleries from these incredible places. See things like the tropical versus continental ageing, seeing the breakdown between the two. Knowing the distillery, being able to shout-out the distillery is a great honour as well as they don’t let you do it unless they’re happy with the rum.”
Whilst some of the elements add only 0.5% to the overall blend, this is all that is needed to achieve a palpable influence without such components overtaking the others and unbalancing the rum.
Tasting Notes – Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum
Some funk on the initial but still approachable. A gorgeous rich toffee, cinnamon, vanilla and Stroopwafel wafts through, followed by a parade of bright pear drops, apple jelly and apple juice. Dried blueberry, mixed fruit leather, Vimto, juicy raisins, ripe green grapes, dried mano, dried strawberry, barbecued pineapple, grapefruit zest and sweet liquorice tumble forward one after the other. Further nosing reveals Oliver’s dusty books in an old library, bookended by coffee grounds and nutmeg.
Wow! Liquorice and vanilla bean propel themselves forward, coating the palate along with some bitter funk. It’s an insanely layered sipping journey, with flavours undulating through the mouth. Vimto, stewed pear juice, pear drops, toffee, cooked cinnamon apples with more cinnamon and nutmeg for dusting, Danish pastry with cream, lime juice, dark bitter chocolate, sweet liquorice fruit roll ups, walnuts, bananas, a touch of menthol and tarragon aniseed…we could go on.
Sukhinder Singh (Founder of Black Tot Rum) has mentioned that the team didn’t want to recreate Black Tot Last Consignment but create something in the middle of it and Black Tot Finest Caribbean that you just want to drink the whole bottle of. In our opinion, they have entirely succeeded. Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum is special, layered and balanced, with exceptional development flavour and transparency of origin. It’s an exceptionally enjoyable expression for those not interested in the breakdown of the blend, and for those nerds who are, the excitement of having lost distillery components from Caroni and Uitvlugt, as well as the juice from the original Navy flagons is just amazing.
Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum is a true gem of a rum that will not be recreated as the team acted like independent bottlers, choosing specific casks for this limited run blend. Therefore, we’ll be savouring this for some time to come (if we can somehow exercise restraint) and can’t wait to see what the folks behind the Black Tot Rum brand come up with next.