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Black Tot Royal Navy Rum is a blended, aged rum in that had been stored for 40 years in stone flagons by the British Royal Navy. The rum is part of the last rum ration served to British Royal Navy sailors on July 31, 1970 when the 300-year old tradition of a daily rum ration, or "tot", ended.
Until recently when 1000 bottles were made available for public sale, Black Tot Royal Navy rum was reserved only at British Royal weddings and State functions.
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How do you rate something that will almost certainly run you $50 US if you're lucky, more likely double or triple that, for a single small pour? No flavor can be worth that. Unless money is no object, as a value proposition, there's little reason (beyond sentiment/history) to get this over Pusser's Gunpowder Strength or Hamilton Navy Strength.
But my burning curiosity got the better of me. I can't at all say it's bad. Tobacco, burnt... rubber?... oak? You can taste the Guyanese sweetness and Jamaican funk if you add a bit of water and get beyond the burn, and I love both styles, so I enjoyed my ounce of this. But in the end, I was left with thoughts about naval history, the ephemeral nature of enjoying spirits, thrift... I paid a lot of money for the experience of drinking something rare and expensive, more than an amazing flavor.
I got a small taste for free so my review is not influenced by my wallet. It smells and taste like straight up molasses. Glad I got a chance to try it but I would never buy it.
The story and history behind it is more of interest than the rum it self. Most places that have it have a shot for $100-200, but it's not an orgasm in a glass. It was made for a bunch of sailors in the 70s.
I had a lot of flagons at one time, which went towards this blend, and kept one back. So it might not be exactly the same.
The nose is fantastic. A complexity that one might not expect from a Royal Navy rum. It also possesses a great length. Rich, opulent, oaky with a nice gentle burn that belies its 54% ABV.
I can put a couple of earlier reviews straight.
Black Tot claim that the flagons come from bonded warehouses around the UK. The review stating that it was found in Germany, might be true I guess for some, but for many, I can confirm that they did indeed come from bonded warehouses, and in particular one in Wiltshire in the subterranean deep ex-chalk mines.
And with another review saying that single flagons were in your face, high proof dogs lacking complexity isn't the case. Well at least not with mine!!
I now have 6½ bottles to enjoy and am glad that I didn't have to pay the retail price for them! I look at my cabinet and see that I gave Pusser's 15yo the same 8. This is a lot lot better than Pussers 15yo, but when taking price into consideration.......!!
I've had British Navy Rum from an old flagon, from the Castle Brands release of British Royal Navy Imperial Rum, and the Black Tot. In blending the Black Tot for consistency, they've really done something special. They took the bite out of the high-proof dog, and added layers of complexity. From a single flagon, the rum is in your face, with singular notes. This tasted like an aria... complex, layered. It's sweeter, but I won't count that against it. At the top.
So, I had this a couple years ago at place called Hogo in DC, which is unfortunately closed now. I ponied up $50 for a one ounce pour on two occasions. Once for me, and a second time to share with a history nerd friend of mine.
So, this rum is not very palatable. It has some nice notes of leather and tobacco with a backdrop of diesel.....or perhaps more like hydraulic fluid. It totally lived up to its expectations. If the military was in the business of distilling spirits, this is the product you would get.
That all being said, if you get a chance to drink this.......do it! Imagine yourself toasting a victory at Trafalgar, or sinking the Bismarck, or suffering from scurvy somewhere in the south Pacific. While this is not the best rum in the world, it is a great way to celebrate and experience how rum played a small part in affecting our world.
I had the occasion to taste a little of this but a little was enough, it`s an explosion of flavors, dark fruits, leather, wood, tropical fruit mash, cocoa, coffee...and the aftertaste stayed for a very very long time, i was quite amazed. It´s way too expensive for me to buy me a bottle though.
So we all know the story given behind the guys responsible for marketing this rum and to be fair they did well (and made good money!). But, I have been made aware of a different version of events which actually means this isnt technically a navy rum at all. In fact it was found in Germany, boxed up in an used section of an army base! No-body knows where it really came from, who distilled it, what is blended in it or who's it really was...?
The rum itself offers treacle on the nose at first, with dark chocolate, black fruits & nuts. Thick and sweet on the palate, becoming light and oaky before berries, espresso & cacao burst through. Great with a nice fat cigar :-D
And it was terrific. About half a sip in I realized that it was something unique. Lots of black pepper and some pepper green taste... Like someone dabbed arugala in it? Also lots of brown sugar butter flavor. Terrifically complex. All in all I loved it and would love to get a bottle to savor. But alas... The cost.
It had a sweet smokiness that reminded me of a sweetened Scotch. Given the gunpowder strength it did not have nearly the bite that I expected. Overall it was a decent rum. I would not recommend buying a full bottle as the price to quality ratio just does not make sense. However, if you cam find a 1 to 2 ounce pour at a high end bar, it worth a try for the historical significance of the rum
"New York Times editorial featuring Black Tot Royal Navy rum"
"Black Tot Royal Navy rum review by Tim from The Whiskey Exchange"
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