Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of Gunpowder Proof rum

Screen shot 2016-07-13 at 2.25.43 PMFamiliar with overproof rums? Usually, they are rums with an alcohol content of greater than 57.5% alcohol by volume -- 115 proof or more-- usually bottled and labeled as "151."

I mention this because Shaw-Ross International Importers of Miramar, FL, is introducing Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof, a 54.5% abv (109 proof), at the end of the month in July. Rollout to markets in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, California, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina will come in the ensuing months.

Screen shot 2016-07-13 at 2.33.02 PMPusser’s Gunpowder Proof is a blend of rums from Guyana and Trinidad. It is widely regarded as the last rum issued by the British Royal Navy to its enlistees in 1970. The new entry will retail at a suggested $33 to $35 a bottle.

On July 31, 1970, on what was known as "Black Tot Day," the tradition going back some 300 years ended, with British sailors wearing black armbands and conducting mock funerals to bid farewell to the rations. A small supply from E.D. & F. Man & Co, official rum merchants to the Navy since 1784, was stored in wicker-clad stone vessels and went untouched except for state occasions.

In the British Navy, in a practice copied in the days of sailing warships by some other nations, served rum as part of a drink called "grog." The word originally referred to a drink made with water and rum, which British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon introduced into the naval squadron he commanded in the West Indies on August 21, 1740. Vernon wore a coat of grogram cloth and was nicknamed Old Grogram or Old Grog.

Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, which agrees with this story of the word's origin, states that the word "grog" was first used in this sense in 1770, though other sources cite 1749.

The Gunpowder Proof is produced by Pusser's Rum Ltd., headquartered in Charleston, SC.

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