Rum lovers and sailors will raise a glass of rum today to mark the end of arguably one of the best perks of British Naval life: a daily tot of rum.
The practice of giving those serving in the British Navy a measure of rum every day stopped on July 31st 1970, the end of a tradition that had been in existence for over 300 years.
The daily tot of rum, a way of life for generations of sailors, was stopped following a decision by the British Government that in a modern world, sailors drinking a daily ration of alcohol had no place in a strict Navy where the demands of professionalism were high.
Keeping morale high amongst the crew was the reason the practice began in the 1700s, a tradition that carried on for more than three centuries. The tradition began at a time when voyaging across the world involved navigating dangerous seas, often at the mercy of pillaging pirates. The original routine was to provide sailors with a beer at lunchtime every day to keep their spirits high, but this was replaced with a tot of rum after the British captured Jamaica and the local spirit was in ready supply. The added bonus was that rum was more robust and able to survive the long journeys without spoiling.
Some sailors were worried they were being short changed with a watered down ration so sometimes mixed their rum with gunpowder, before setting it alight. If it ignited this was ‘proof’ that it was unadulterated, which is where the term proof originated, one that signifies the alcohol content of spirits and is still found on labels today.
The daily 70ml ration certainly improved morale, but, unfortunately some sailors became a little too happy, squirreling away their daily tot and supping their combined stash in one sitting – leading to drunken behaviour.
In 1740 Admiral Edward Vernon decreed that the daily tot should be diluted: one part rum to three parts water to keep any instances of unsociable behaviour in check. Admiral Vernon was commonly known as Old Grog because of the grogham coats he wore, a material popular at the time made of a mix of silk and wool. As a result, this new drink became known as grog.
Daily for more than 300 years, a bell would ring at noon and the cry of “up spirits” signified that the ration was on its way. The day the bell rang for the last time was marked by some sailors wearing black armbands – which is why the occasion is commemorated each year as black tot day.
Six Saints Caribbean Rum
Six Saints rum is lovingly hand crafted on the tiny Caribbean isle of Grenada.
Named after the island’s six saintly parishes, it is distilled in small batches using only pure ingredients. We don’t add spices or colourings to Six Saints –it’s just pure, old fashioned Caribbean rum, patiently prepared the traditional way.
Aged in once-used American Oak bourbon barrels, Six Saints is bottled at 41.7% ABV – which we believe is the ideal sipping strength.
Grenadian rum has been worshipped by the islanders for over 200 ears, yet it’s remained almost unknown among rum disciples. That’s why we believe it’s now time to throw open the frontiers and spread the gospel about this last truly undiscovered Caribbean rum. Rare, righteous and pure, you could say Six Saints is a truly immaculate conception!
Tropical fruit such as pineapple, bananas and coconut with a hint of vanilla and dried cherries.
700 ml / 41.7% ABV
French Overseas XO Rum
Take Reunion in the Pacific and Martinique in the Caribbean and blend them together. Same philosophy, many miles apart. We tried to develop a blended “Agricole rhum” that would challenge misconceptions of this style of rum. If you’ve tried these types of rums before and didn’t like them, then it’s time to try again. We think that the distance between the Islands has made the marriage much more successful!
French Overseas XO Rum is a blend of rum produced by Rivere du Mat in Reunion and Galion in Martinique. Crafted from cane sugar and distilled using column stills then aged in American and French oak casks. A very limited release of 2,000 bottles worldwide. No colours, flavours or sugar has been added.
ON THE NOSE
You will find Cane Sugar, Cinnamon, Crème Caramel
ON THE PALATE
You discover Raisins, Licorice and Tropical Fruits
REMARKABLE REGIONAL RUMS
700 ml / 43% ABV
Don Papa 10 Year Old
Inspired by the island of Negros, Philippines, Sugarlandia is a timeless place where nature is still the dominant life force. A lush and fertile land in which sugarcane thrives, where the ancient mills grind this noble cane, turning it into the special Black Gold Molasses, from which the rich, sweet Don Papa Rum is distilled.
ON THE NOSE
Deep, rich, powerful
ON THE PALATE
Smooth and delicate; dried fruit, cacao and a hint of oak
700 ml / 40% ABV
El Supremo is an organic rum produced in the traditional Paraguayan way of batch distilling and aging rum. It is now available in Singapore exclusively on Boutiquespirits!
Don José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia was a Paraguayan lawyer and politician influenced by the ideas of Enlightenment of Voltaire and Rousseau, and later, the French Revolution. Francia advocated for the full independence of Paraguay from the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and the Empire of Brazil. His independent spirit is still venerated in Paraguay to this day, and it is for this reason we dedicate our Rum to him, named after his popular sobriquet "El Supremo".
Our journey first starts over 300 years ago: a time when the Spanish conquered South America and Jesuit missions introduced Christianity to the region. The Jesuits were organised and hardworking, and yielded many crops which soon flourished amongst the fertile land. One of the crops that thrived was sugar-cane, which led to the traditional distillation process of creating aguardiente, and subsequently a unique method of making rum. This furtive industry remained confined within Paraguay for hundreds of years until one day, whilst walking through a remote part of the country, we chanced upon a distillery creating rum using these antique methods. We immediately dove in with exuberance, and began to create a product deriving from a contemporary vision blended with traditional values.
From this has stemmed El Supremo, the first completely organic rum from Paraguay, double aged in Incienso timber and Oak barrels.
BOUTIQUE SPIRITS SINGAPORE is a collective of unique craft spirits in the lion city. We pour you the latest news and stories on our independent spirits on these blog pages.