A quick primer on Black Tot history: For around 300 years, the Royal Navy issued a daily ration, or tot, of rum to all hands aboard its ships. This tradition came to an end on July 31st, 1970 (presumably because it was decided that being drunk-in-charge of nuclear-tipped torpedoes was a bad idea) and the day came to be known as Black Tot Day. Years later, a batch of the Royal Navy rum was discovered in a warehouse, which Elixir Distillers subsequently released as Black Tot Last Consignment. As you would expect of a liquid so rare and collectable, bottles of Last Consignment are now difficult to find and extremely expensive. So in 2019, Elixir Distillers created Black Tot Rum, a blend of rums from Barbados, Guyana, and Jamaica, that serves as a modern and accessible homage to traditional Navy rum.
Black Tot Rum mark 50th anniversary of Black Tot Day with 24 hours of rum celebration and education on July 31st
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the day that job satisfaction levels within the Royal Navy fell off a cliff, the Black Tot Rum team have scheduled a virtual rum festival featuring many of the category’s leading experts. The sessions, taking place on Facebook Live, are hosted by Mitch Wilson (Black Tot global brand ambassador) and Dawn Davies (head buyer and rum expert for The Whisky Exchange), and feature rum blenders, historians, authors, and ambassadors in an impressively brand-agnostic examination of the rum category – it’s refreshing to see a brand organise such an event and welcome experts from other brands to take part, and the Black Tot team deserve a high-five for doing it in this way.
A full schedule of sessions and speakers can be found on the Black Tot Facebook Live page, which will be updated with further details as we get closer to the 31st. Many of the sessions have already been confirmed, a selection of which is listed below:
Session Highlights and Times
- 31st July 12pm (BST): The Pillars of Navy Rum – a look at the islands that provide the cornerstones of the traditional Navy Rum blends with Miguel Smith (Mount Gay), Christelle Harris (Hampden Estate), Daniyel Jones (Angostura) and Benjamin Booth (Tamosi).
- 31st July 1.30pm (BST): Tropical vs. Continental ageing – what do these different styles of ageing mean for the overall flavour of rum? A discussion with Luca Gargano (Velier) and Carsten Vlierbloom (E&A Scheer).
- 31st July 3pm (BST): Barbados – the roots of rum – Mount Gay Master Blender Trudiann Branker takes us through the heritage of Barbados rum.
- 31st July 6pm (BST): Ageing at Sea – a look at a classic style of ageing pioneered by the British Navy with Alexandre Gabriel (Plantation Rum) and Donn Benn (West Indies Rum Distillery).
- 31st July 9pm (BST): The Rum Archives – a delve into the rum history books with Matt Pietrek (rum historian and author at cocktailwonk.com), Dave Broom (author of Rum: The Manual) and Benjamin Boothe (Tamosi Rum, and descendant of the master distillers for both Blairmont and Albion in Guyana)
- 1st August 7.30am (BST): Recreating the Navy Blend – a Black Tot tasting with head blender Oliver Chilton and a first look at the brand new 50th anniversary Black Tot blend.
- 1st August 9am (BST): The Last Toast – A Celebration of the world of rum – a visit to rum clubs around the world.
We will update this story as further details are released by the Black Tot Rum team. In the mean time, Mitch Wilson says: “For the 50th Anniversary of Black Tot Day we wanted to celebrate in a way that had never been done before – there are so many wonderful distilleries and producers around the world, and the Navy Rum was a blend of so many of them – it seemed fitting to bring as many of these producers together as we could for this historic occasion.”