Whatever happened to the Navy Rum ?

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Ron Goldstein, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    In the "Times" the other day I spotted this item.

    "Forty years after the daily ration was withdrawn, Royal Navy rum has been made available to buy in the shops"

    It went on to say that the navy put its unused rum into bonded warehouses and sold it off 10 years ago at £8 a gallon. "It has been repackaged by Speciality Drinks, a private company, as Black Tot,priced at £600 a bottle", apparently the rum is a special blend caused by the navy putting new rum into vats with old rum, some of it 50 years old"

    I wrote the following letter to The Times (I'm always writing letters to them) but as it was not considered of sufficient interest I thought I'd reproduce it here :p


    Your intriguing article headed "Navy’s tot of rum resurfaces" (31/7/10) which ended with the comment "You understand why the sailors were so keen on it" failed to mention that the Royal Navy were not the only recipients of this nectar of the gods.

    My wartime diary entry for Friday 27/10/44 made whilst serving as a wireless operator in the Castel del Rio area of Northern Italy reads as follows:

    "Still raining & roads must be murder. The Div (78 British Infantry Division) is getting a bit of a hammering, especially the Irish Brigade. Rum issue "

    I can’t remember what the temperature had to be before we qualified for our tot, but I do remember that it went down very well !

    Ron Goldstein
    Lindele likes this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Ron,

    How ironic that you have mentioned this beverage.

    Last night/this morning as I was skimming through some QM files from 1939/40 looking for interesting bits to post I saw in the Sept. Oct. 1939 months quite a few mentions of Rum Rations being issued including (I assume) guidance to lower formations on the ratio on how it should be mixed with Tea or Cocoa/Coco (sp) and another requesting that the glass jars be returned to higher formations.

    If you are interested in what was said let me know and I'll go back over the files and dig them out for you.

    I was under the impression the Royal Navy still receives a Rum ration today.

  3. Fireman

    Fireman Discharged

    I'm sure ratings are allowed an issue of beer to replace the rum issue. Rum finished in 1970. Probably the beer issued is of British origin. No danger of getting drunk anymore then!!!!
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I do remember that when the tot was issued, you were obliged to drink it on the spot.

    This, apparently, was to stop the stuff being sold to others.

  5. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    This is the place for history of navy rum.

    PUSSER'S - Pusser's Rum History

    Folklore page is full of information, includes, what the sailors were doing when they were sucking the monkey.
    Lindele likes this.
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Many thanks for a most informative website.


  7. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    I'm sure I remember this in the news, years ago, when it was discontinued. The 8 pound a gallon did not include duty but even so I thought it would all be sold.
  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    It's one hell of a profit margin for rebottling!!!

  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It's one hell of a profit margin for rebottling!!!

    Aint it !!!

    In fact the whole story is quite a rum tale :)
  10. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Aint it !!!

    In fact the whole story is quite a rum tale :)

    Very rum indeed:D

    Nice one Ron.

  11. Driver-op

    Driver-op WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Ron. I can't remember how cold it had to be before we got our rum, but as a wireless op I used to wait for the message 'splice the mainbrace' and that was it. It wasn't watered as 'grog' for the Navy lower ranks, but neat. In Holland it was nearly every night, but no one watched to see it go down. One wet night in the early days of the bridgehead our BSM and QSM helped themselves to all our rum and got really plastered. The BSM fell head first into his slit trench and had to be rescued as it was filling up with water. Both got demoted of course - oh happy days!
    Lindele, Michel Sabarly and Drew5233 like this.
  12. Fireman

    Fireman Discharged

    A right rum do........
    I'm sorry, I should stick to cats, I know.
  13. Nicola_G

    Nicola_G Senior Member

    So where does Woods Navy rum come in? Was it actually a navy rum or is that just a marketing name? It still tastes pretty good though lol.
  14. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    I'm sure that I've read somewhere that the Naval officer responsible for the removal of the rum ration was a direct descendant of the Naval officer who introduced it in the first place.

  15. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    So where does Woods Navy rum come in? Was it actually a navy rum or is that just a marketing name? It still tastes pretty good though lol.

    According to an old sailor,I know Woods and Lambs should be prosecuted for calling their rum navy as it is nothing like real Navy Rum.
  16. Combover

    Combover Guest

    So where can one get real Navy rum without having to remortgage one's house?
  17. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Problem is that you have to accept the other two components.
  18. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thought I'd give this 3 year old thread a bump for anyone who wishes to pursue the subject of the official issue of rum in inclement weather.

  19. Thunderbox

    Thunderbox Member

    Well, I can confirm that Rum can still be bid for through the QM in today's army, and that its simply a matter of the CO, MO or Coy/Bty Comd authorising it. It is available in cold weather, and also in combat situations.

    These days the Rum does not come in the old SRD jars, etc, but is a local/NAAFI purchase of something like Lamb's Navy Rum in bottles.

    I think there are still official regulations about how the Rum is supposed to be issued - ie a strictly measured tot, to be drunk in front of an officer, etc (same procedure as the old Navy grog issue) - but I can again confirm that nobody seems to bother with the regs. The last time I had an "official" Rum issue, it arrived as a mug of tea with about 50% tea and 50% Rum. I can report that keeping awake on that particular stag was harder than usual...

    "Gunfire" is now the traditional drink served to soldiers by their officers on Christmas Day and other major dates (some regiments celebrate particular battles, etc). Rum is mixed into cookhouse tea, and then (at least in the Gunner Regiments I served in) the officers & SNCOs troop around the accomodation - waking the boys up and forcing them to drink the mixture. Usually the Officers & SNCOs then "clear up" the remains in the bottles (these have been bid for the whole Regiment, but of course many are away on leave - giving a substantial surplus), and the rest of the day is usually a write-off....
  20. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Anyone (over 18) visiting 'The Rum Story' in my hometown of Whitehaven still gets a tot of rum after visiting the museum, Ron! Part of the story deals with the Naval connection, as explained below:

    "Rum has long been associated with the Navy and was, for many years, given as a daily ration to sailors.

    Life in the Navy was hard and our displays show how life was led aboard ship through the ages including information on sailors' diet, disease and the activities of the 'press gangers' who forcibly enlisted men to the Navy. You can also test your naval knowledge by guessing where each part of the ship is in our interactive game.

    Another notable area of the exhibition shows Admiral Lord Nelson being pickled in a barrel of rum after his death to preserve the body on its long journey home from the battle of Trafalgar."

    (Source: 'The Rum Story', Lowther Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria)

    There was also a dark side to the history of rum making and consumption - especially the slave trade. This aspect is also covered at the museum.

    Link to 'The Rum Story' website:


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