Is This the Manliest Rum Ever?

A formerly illegal “gunpowder proof” spirit makes its return

By Kirk Miller

 
Rum
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14 September 2016

Outside of pirates, rum doesn’t have the same masculine, hair-on-chest character of, say, whiskey.

Changing that: the introduction of Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof, a rum initially issued to enlistees in the British Royal Navy, and now finally available in the U.S.

First question: sailors were issued booze?

Yep. It’s a tradition that began in 1655, when the Royal Navy would serve rum on ships (it was easier to carry than beer) and assign extra “tots” (rations) before and after big battles. Apparently drunkenness was enough of a problem that servings were limited to two a day. The release of Pusser’s coincides with the 46th anniversary of Black Tot Day, when the Royal Navy was pressured to stop serving booze rations to its soldiers.

As for this blend: Pusser’s Rum GP is produced in “strict accordance with Admiralty blending specifications.”  It’s an aged, brandy-like, overproofed expression (54.5% ABV) distilled from vintage wooden pot stills that were first put in use in the early 1700s and recently located in Guyana’s Demerara River Valley (as opposed to more modern metal column stills). These pots “impregnate the rum with esters (naturally occurring organic flavoring compounds) far beyond those of any other rum.”

It's already won several awards.

And by the way, if you’re wondering about the brand name, “Pusser’s” is just a variation on “purser,” the Royal Navy’s word for a supply officer (which included rum). According to the company’s press release: “Before hydrometers, the ship’s Purser would test rum strength by mixing a few grains of gunpowder with rum to see if it would ignite under the heat of a magnifying glass. If it did that was ‘proof’ the rum was ‘at strength,’ if it was not, the Purser was threatened with bodily harm for ‘watering down’ the rum.”

You don't want to make a bunch of drunken sailors angry.

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