Pusser’s British Navy Rum “Nelson’s Blood” 15yo (40%, 2013, British Virgin Islands)

To make it a trio of Navy Rums over here at Master Quill is easy. At arm’s length I have the wonderful Pusser’s 15yo, a small batch Rum. Yes a Rum that has actually matured for at least 15 years in Bourbon Barrels. Or so they say. Pusser’s make the claim that (part of this Rum for sure) comes from century-old wooden stills and that the Rums are sourced from Guyana (Port Mourant is made with wooden stills), but also Rums from Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad (all three not from wooden stills). Another claim made by Pusser’s is that some of the Rums were fermented in open vats where naturally occurring yeasts ferment the sugars in around 72 hours. Pusser’s 15yo contains added sugar.

Pusser's British Navy Rum 15yoColor: Orange Brown.

Nose: Thick fatty nose. High ester Rum from Jamaica meets Demerara Rum from Guyana. Add to that some brown sugar. Those two are pretty obvious. Just like the Red Label I reviewed the day before yesterday, both heavy types of Rum  don’t stay around too much. They just popped in to say hi and sort of left. Caramel, dark chocolate with sugared mint. (After Eight). Vanilla powder, raisins and slightly herbal. Sweet smelling and well-balanced. Brown sugar and milk chocolate. Definitely from the same family as the Pusser’s Red Label, but heavier and overall even “better” smelling. Again farmy notes. Elegant wood, old shop interior. Charred wood. Great complexity, this keeps on giving and giving. Wonderful.

Taste: Sweet and syrupy at first, followed by a dry Jamaican style high ester Rum. Hints of vanilla and do I detect some cola and ahorn syrup? Here we don’t have a heavy Demerara note. This is just too easily drinkable and just a bit too smooth. This really needs a higher ABV sister version. It’s also quite sweet, maybe they’ve added a bit too much extra sugar. Demerara and Jamaica should bring enough sweetness (or aroma) to the mix. This somehow almost seems like an addictive taste to me. It’s hard to put down, despite its sweetness. There is something about this Rum. I still can’t quite put my finger on it, but I like it very much. If a gun was put to my head and I had to think of something I would say its the Jamaican bit in this Rum…

I adore this 15yo, it’s an amazing blend. When I start with a Rum like this, it’s hard to put down. Everything seems right, everything is well-integrated, and even the bottle it comes from looks great. It’s just a wee bit too smooth and a wee bit too sweet. This should have been bottled at a higher strength. Even the simpler version I just reviewed is bottled at 42%. There even exists a higher strength version, bottled at 54.5% ABV. Please make a higher strength version of this blend too, please!

Points: 87


Pusser’s Red Label British Navy Rum (42%, 2010, British Virgin Islands)

For those of you who have read the previous post about Lamb’s Navy Rum, will know about the daily ration of Rum that was issued to its sailors by the British Navy. The person that was doing the issuing was the Purser a.k.a. the Pusser.

In 1979, Charles Tobias bought the rights and the blending information from the Navy, and founded Pusser’s Ltd. on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The first bottle of Pusser’s saw the light of day just one year later. Pusser’s British Navy Rum is still the same blend of five West Indian Rums, a majority of which is pot-still distilled Rum. As far as I know this Red Label has been replaced by a similar looking Blue Label version also 42% ABV. Some markets have a Blue Label bottled at 40% ABV.

Pusser's Rum Red LabelColor: Copper orange.

Nose: Sweet Demerara, but above all Jamaican high ester Rum. Right on top, fresh orange juice with oils from the skins. It instantaneously reminds me of the Pusser’s 15yo I know pretty well. I love that one, so this nose is making me smile already. Give it some time to breath and the influence of the Jamaican Rum’s in the blend wear off a bit to give way for toffee and milk chocolate and the occasional whiff of cow-droppings (in a good way). Underneath there is also some dryness and some funky wood to balance things out. Black tea, paper, pencil shavings and some sugared or over ripe tropical fruits.

Taste: Yeah that’s more like it. This starts out with a thin version of Demerara Rum. That quickly turns into a more sugar-water note, with the Demerara shoved into the back seat. Wood and a fruity acidity. Raspberry and white chocolate. Every aroma passes by in quick succession and after the rather short finish, you just want your next sip of this. Quick, quick!

Where the Lamb’s was disappointing and gloomy, this Pusser’s makes the sun shine and leaves you wanting more, not only more Pusser’s but also a bite to eat. Appetizing. This is a light Pusser’s that can be used as a mixer. It’s affordable and why should you get a less interesting Rum to mix with when it costs exactly the same? For the time being, if I needed a Rum for a Coke, this would be it, especially when at this price it’s also a worthy sipping Rum. It’s also quite nice as an aperitif Rum, whereas the Pusser’s 15yo is a thicker and heavier Rum (at twice the price of this Red Label), which is a true after dinner Rum, a digestif. I will forget about Lamb’s, and will get Pusser’s instead.

Points: 83

Lamb’s Navy Rum (40%, UK)

In the olden days, sailors liked to drink French Brandy. When Jamaica was taken away from Spain in 1655, Rum quickly replaced Brandy as the drink of choice. In 1731 however, The British navy started giving their sailors a daily ration of Rum, a tradition that lasted until 1970. Hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves with that giant leap in time. First let’s get back to 1849.

In 1849, Alfred Lamb, the son of William Lamb, a spirits and wine merchant from London, blended 18 Caribbean Rums together and formed a company called: Alfred Lamb & Son. Amongst others, Rums from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana were used in the blend. During the second world war, Alfred Lamb & Son were bombed. Also their competitors, White Keeling Rum Merchants were bombed and both firms were accommodated by Portal, Dingwall & Norris. All involved must have liked each other, because by 1946 these three companies merged. The new firm was called: United Rum Merchants. After a few changes of hands along the way, today Lamb’s is part of Pernod Ricard.

Lamb's Navy RumColor: Orange brown, dark amber.

Nose: Fatty and sweet with fresh oranges. Not particularly the oil from the skins just the smell you get from a lot of oranges at a grocers shop. Very obvious notes of Demerara Rum with added dustiness. However, the “thick” Demerara aroma quickly dissipates and turns into a more dry and dusty note. The sweetness becomes more sugary and coffee-like (Haagsche Hopjes), yes still writing about the nose. Dryer and more woody now. Wood, with the old paint just stripped off. Hints of oak and vanilla. Aroma of slightly rotting leaves. Quite and unexpected turn of events.

Taste: Much thinner than I initially thought. Not as sweet as the nose promised. Actually a pretty strange overall taste. Thin, some wood, toffee and burned sugar, the Haagsche Hopjes are here too. No friendly sweetness and even some hints of mint. Sugared black tea and raw alcohol. Woody bitterness takes over the body of the Rum and disturbs the finish. Disturbs? Yes, it ruins the balance of the Rum completely. The aftertaste is quite bitter, and in this case it’s not what you want. Short finish (luckily). Quite disappointing actually.

The nose is quite nice and typical for Rum. The taste is a short string of disappointments. I don’t really understand why this is quite a popular brand and sells a lot of cases. I guess this is not meant for sipping, but you are expected to do something with it. I for one, will drink the rest in a coke. I’m no authority on Rum & Cola mixtures, but if I needed a Rum for a coke I would go for the simplest of Abuelo’s.

Points:  69