Wednesday, August 1, 2012

42nd Anniversary of Black Tot Day

Day of Mourning

31st July 1970
Last day of “the Tot” in the Royal Navy

Tot Issue
A standard naval tot of rum consisted of an eighth of a pint of rum (which was over 50% ABV, and was traditionally named “overproof”). Generally spirits are about 40% in comparison.
Once a rating reached the age of twenty he was entitled to draw his tot. Senior Rates were entitled to drink this neat, however Junior Rates had “2 in 1″ which meant that it was mixed with two parts water to one part rum. The reason for this was so that the rum could not be stored and saved for *another day. The rum was a blend from different countries in the Caribbean, most notably British Guyana, British Virgin Islands and Trinidad.
* When fridges were introduced on to the Mess Decks, “Jack” found he could get neaters if he put the tot in the freezer compartment. Never tried it so cannot say if the separation of water and Rum worked!
The official reason for stopping the tradition of supplying a tot to ratings was that the Royal Navy had much sophisticated equipment and weaponry on board and needed sober sailors to operate it. 
     No matter what the reason, the daily ration of rum was gone and there still was the issue of the remaining rum in the soleras located in Deptford, Gosport, and Devonport.   In December, 1970 the soleras were emptied into wicker covered ceramic flagons and stored in bonded warehouses, since then it has only been used for state affairs and royal weddings.   A part of the "Last Consignment" has been bottled and made available on line at $1000.00 per bottle.   Black Tot as it is so named is bottled at 108.6 proof, a strength that is very close to the original navy strength rums served to the sailors of the British Royal Navy.

     42 years ago the rum was removed from the ships, but the interest in the navy strength rums remains to this day.  It is out there in brands like Pusser's, and Smith and Cross brands that are available in many of the better liquor stores.

     Yesterday was an annual day of mourning for the ones that hold the idea of a daily tot of rum near and dear, but like so many other traditions of the past it had to come to an end in the modern era of the British Royal Navy.    So it is another wonderful day to celebrate an era of sailors and tradition.   ;o)