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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » British Royal Navy Imperial Rum...real McCoy!
British Royal Navy Imperial Rum...real McCoy!
Rum Numb Davey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2005
Posts: 204
From: Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 2005-08-04 1:17 pm   Permalink

Martiki: If you think $62 a dram is steep for some premium rum, let me illuminate my most prized spirit in my collection (along with my sole bottle of 50 year old Macallan). The “brand” is really not a brand at all but a description. The product is British Royal Navy Imperial Rum, and it is, in fact, the REAL deal. Pussers and Lambs have some legitimacy as Royal Navy Rum, but the stock of wonderfully aged alembic spirits distilled in Jamaica and Guyana that were aged in American oak barrels and casked at 108 proof was the British Vatted Rum for issue to the Jack Tars on deck. Most TCer’s probably know the infamous day, July 31, 1970 - known as Black Tot Day, when the Royal Navy admiralty suspended the maritime privilege of one half gill, or one eighth of a pint to be issued out by the Ship Purser with great solemnity and pomp (the original measure was a gill, which is equal to one quarter pint or 5 US Ounces –Military bearing?).
The American Navy ended the Rum ration on September 1, 1862, the Limey’s closed the Grog shop in 1970, and the PC cops finally did our neighbors to the North –the Canadian Navy served their last measure to sailors on December 2, 1971. (Take off, Hoseheads!)

In any event, when the Royal Navy decreased the ration from one gill to one half gill on January 1, 1851, Rum brokers experimented with blending and the blending formulas eventually became closely guarded secrets. They carried over the surplus rum blend akin to the Solera system for Sherry or in the old Cognac Houses. This created layered, rich, noble rum with distinct rancio. Since the quantity of the ration of rum was reduced the Sea Lords demanded that QUALITY standards increased. After, the notorious Black Tot Day in 1970, the remaining stock silently aged in bonded underground warehouses in Jamaica under the authority and supervision of the British Government who owned the old stock. His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, Duke of York, served a served in the Royal Navy, seeing action in the Falklands War aboard HMS Invincible. The British Royal Navy Imperial Rum was served at his wedding to Fergie, and at various other Royal functions. All the while the rum slumbered away with only small sales to generate resources to benefit Royal Navy's Sailor's Fund. Finally, a shrewd and charming Oil Man named Mark Andrews from Houston, Texas acquired the remaining stock of 650 wicker-covered ceramic demijohns. He previously purchased Knappogue Castle in Co. Clare, Eire in 1966.
He found vast stocks of aged Irish whiskey in the cellar, which he inherited, making the
Old Irish Manse a fantastic investment. Texas Oil went bust, and a new venture was born.
When Life gives you lemons you make lemonade (or cocktails)! With this twist of fate
Knappogue Castle Irish Single Malt Whiskey was born. He started Great Spirits (An Independent Liquor Import Company), which has since evolved to Castle Brands, after a merger with Roaring Water Bay Spirits, an Irish company that has enjoyed great success with its Boru Vodka and Clontarf Irish Whiskey.
In any event, they not only have the British Royal Navy Imperial Rum stock, but they produce a premium branded rum under the Sea Wynde label comprised of five pot still rums from Jamaica and Guyana. I definitely like Sea Wynde, and still have a couple of bottle from the launch. After all, Jim Murray was the consultant on the brand and he consulted with us when I worked for Cadenheads. Spirits Journalist and publisher, F. Paul Pacult of the prestigious Spirit Journal gives it his highest recommendation, which is for him a five star rating. As good as, Sea Wynde is, it cannot touch the absolute sublime complexity of the BRNIR. I obtained a fantastic demijohn of BRNIR (wholesale) after the launch. I tasted it with Mark Andrews at the second Whisky Expo at the Nikko Hotel in San Fran a few years ago. I knew it was not practical, but I finagled a bottle at wholesale from my Brands Manager at Southern Wine & Spirits for a whopping $3,500.00 clams. That’s’ right people my wholesale price was $3,500.00! I can see the blank stares in all across Tikidom thinking what kind of fool old Rum Numb Davey is just blowing his retirement like a chump. Consider this, I am a bachelor and was always impractical. Like my moniker implies I loves me some rum, and this is very special rum! It is history in the bottle, and it is a beautiful package. I have reluctantly shared some, at various times, since I purchased it in 2002. It is mostly a Christmas, New Years and Birthday dram for me, and I do mean dram – 1 solitary ounce. I keep it away from my own home bar, and stashed with my vintage wine collection in a climate controlled cold storage. I know Rum Jungle offers the demijohn for $5,000 to High Rollers in Mandalay Bay, and although RJ is expensive they do have about 150 or so rums, and worth a visit to the gambling Rummy. I think Asia de Cuba restaurants stock BRNIR which can be ordered by the snifter (Garçon, pour it in a Tiki Mug, Please!)
The British Royal Navy Imperial 108.6-proof rum is a beautifully packaged classic ceramic demijohn encased in wicker, along with a glass decanter, funnel and stopper. A normal retail price should be around$5,500 to $6,000. If you cannot afford it, perhaps a bottle of Bacardi Millennium Rum which retailed for an impressive $800 might fit your budget! Back to my bottle of Ancient Macallan, while celebrating Hogmany in Edinburgh in 2000, I paid (on my credit card) a whopping sum of £1900.00 for a rare bottle of 1949 Vintage Macallan Millennium 50 Y.O. Single Malt and it is UNOPENED in its’ wooden and copper case. That’s nothing, on April17, 2002, an unlabelled bottle of 'The Macallan 60 Years Old', was sold at auction, by McTear's in Glasgow, for £20,150 - setting a new world record for the most expensive bottle of Scotch whisky. Park Avenue Liquor in NYC lists the Macallan Millennium 50 y.o. for $5,000 now. Perhaps, I’ll sell it and purchase another bottle of British Royal Navy Imperial Rum. According to my calculations, drinking my three ounces for holidays and birthday, I will run out of BRNI rum when I am 89 years old! BRNI Rum website:

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 15, 2004
Posts: 54
From: North Jersey!
Posted: 2005-08-04 2:42 pm   Permalink

I must say, that was a very intriguing and enjoyable read!

Thank you for that, Rich
"The only time I ever said no to a drink was when I misunderstood the question."

Will Sinclair

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Rum Demon
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 254
From: Portland, Oregon
Posted: 2005-08-04 2:55 pm   Permalink

Amazing! Thanks for all the info. I had wondered if the RN still had the rum ration. I know the English army still had theirs in WW2. When our US soldiers acted in British-led operations they sometimes were able to "participate" in the ceremony.

Shame they took it away. Age old traditions shouldn't be trifled with, especially those that involve booze. Any info on why they stopped?

I remember when our US navy banned beards in the mid-80's. My father, a member of the sub navy, had to shave his traditional sub-mariner's beard off. I was twelve and had never seen him without it.

thanks again,

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Satan's Sin
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 729
From: Imperial Beach, CA
Posted: 2005-08-04 3:04 pm   Permalink

I've actually been on British warships and have enjoyed their great hospitality -- and drinks. There is no rum ration anymore, of course, but alcohol is still allowed and their officers' mess -- the "wardroom" -- always contains an admirable collection of many fine spirits. For sale. Each time an officer takes a drink it is put on his tab.

I'm sure there must be a limit to how much a sailor or officer can drink at sea, but don't know what it is.

The U.S. Navy has the distinction of being the only navy in world that prohibits alcohol on board ships. This is in my opinion a very bad idea. Having been at sea quite a bit, I can tell you that after 30 or 40 straight days of 14+ hr. days (sprinkled with the occasional Very Scary Moments) one very much wants a drink, and when the ship pulls into a liberty port for one or two days of R&R before going back out for another 30-day pop you can imagine how much "catching up" there is to do.

The French Army I think still issues wine. Not sure. Got lost in this tiny country in Africa called Djibouti once (my friend and I had rented a jeep) and wound up at a French Foreign Legion base, of all things. Back then, I could still speak passable French. Talked our way onto the base (I was still on active duty then; I convinced them giving us directions and lunch would be good for NATO, or something like that) and they were very very nice, served us lunch and what I believe was French Army Wine. Very nice people, very civil, but their working uniforms were a little on the gay side, and I mean "scary" gay, not "Queer Eye" gay.

Great post, R.N. Davey!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3293
From: Victoria, BC
Posted: 2005-08-04 3:19 pm   Permalink

They still ration rum on very special occasions in the Canadian Navy.

No beards unless you have permission, many seem to have mustaches, and absolutely no goatees.(DrunkenMunky always grows one when he's on leave)

Alcohol is permitted, they have buck a beer machines(that's $1 Canadian), but if you have too many you might end up in the brig for a few days.

Every time my hubby is out at sea he brings home 2 big bottles of booze.(each is allowed one carton of ciggs and one bottle of booze - so they swap)

Great Minds Drink Alike

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2987
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2005-08-04 5:07 pm   Permalink

The Indian Navy still has a rum ration despite alchohol being frowned upon by the government.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2005
Posts: 213
Posted: 2005-08-07 2:39 pm   Permalink

[ This Message was edited by: saxotica 2005-08-08 16:41 ]

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Rum Numb Davey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2005
Posts: 204
From: Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 2005-08-07 3:01 pm   Permalink

I am no Sushi grade Ahi, but I am not exactly catfish either. I suppose I am more like Monfish, Sax..

Wait a minute..your baiting me to get to the booze stash, right?
Just finished a bottle of Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos, which was excellantly suited for many rum cocktails!

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Urban Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 18, 2004
Posts: 529
From: The Tropical Isle of Manhattan
Posted: 2005-08-08 1:37 pm   Permalink

Ahhhh, rancio- a term that I had only previously heard associated with Cognac, the spirit that has a very special place in my heart (along with Armagnac a close second). It has only been fairly recently that I have learned that some good aged rums do indeed share some of those characteristics with cognac.

RND, any cognac recommendations? I have been particularly fond of some of the upper-end offerings from the house of Delamain.

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Rum Numb Davey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2005
Posts: 204
From: Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 2005-08-08 2:47 pm   Permalink

Mr Urban Tiki:

Salutations and Greetings my friend. Yes, Rancio is that "umami" of spirits sensations that cannot be described simply. In addition to aged cognac and rum, single malt whisky and mezcals can exhibit that "musty walnuts" aroma.
My favorite Cognacs (in order)

P. Frapin Cuvee Rabelais
Renault Bisquit Privilege d'Alexandre Grande Champagne
Delamain Tres Vieille Reserve de la Famille Grand Champagne
Pierre Ferrand Abel
Jean Fillioux Reserve Familiale
Guerbe XO Grande Champagne
Henessey "Richard Hennessey"
Martell Creation
Otard Extra (I used to broker Otard in the Eighties..good stand-by)
Ragnaud-Sabourin Le Paradis
Louis XIII (lots of hype, but still very good)
Meukow X0

You live around NYC Metro..you can find all of these at fine bottle shops. I have been mixing delicious Pineua des Charentes (dessert cognacs for the uninitiated) with Carribean Rhums for an aristocratic cocktail. quite delicious indeed.

See you in the Paradis!
Just finished a bottle of Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos, which was excellantly suited for many rum cocktails!

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Trader Woody
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2301
From: Tiki Manor, Forest of Bowland,UK
Posted: 2005-08-13 04:02 am   Permalink

Great post!

The Navy Rum I tend to turn to is Wood's 100 Old Navy at a hearty 57% alcohol. It's very rich, with a lot of taste, yet amazingly mellow for it's strength. Plus there's a picture of a sailor on the front, which always scores points...

Trader Woody

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