On July 31st 1970, a 300 year old Royal Naval tradition ended at precisely 6 bells in the forenoon watch (11am) when the last rum ration was issued aboard ships of the British Royal Navy. A day to be forever remembered as Black Tot Day, marking the abolition of ‘the daily tot’. The naval order to ‘splice the mainbrace’ (a reward for good service granting officers with an extra ration of rum) is still observed albeit permission to grant the order is highly restricted with only the Queen, a member of the Royal Family or the Admiralty Board able to do so. The centuries old tradition to ‘splice the mainbrace’ was given to naval staff in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
Following the end of the daily tot, excess rum stocks were drawn from their barrels and poured into wicker-clad imperial stone flagons and transferred to HM bonded warehouses. They lay silently in warehouses around the world as property of the Admiralty, apart from tapping for some special occasions such as the royal wedding of HRH Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
In the 1980s, the British Royal Navy began to release some of their precious stocks for sale in order to raise funds for the RN “Sailor’s Fund”, also known as the Tot Fund, which provides amenities for serving personnel. It is believed that these flagons only made it into the private collections of some serious collectors, namely the CEO of famed Italian importer Velier, Luca Gargano, and one of the world’s most renowned whisky collectors, Giuseppe Begnoni.
On the 70th anniversary of the Italian import company in 2017, Luca Gargano knew that something special was required to celebrate such a deserving and significant milestone in the company's history. In an interview by Damien Sagner of Rum Porter, a French rum culture magazine, Luca Gargano discussed the R.A.S.C bottles inception:
“To celebrate Velier's, anniversary, we [ Luca & Giuseppe Begnoni ] thought it would be a good idea to combine our stocks and bottle this very good Jamaican rum from the 1950s. Subsequently we shared all 58 of the produced bottles, which results in the RASC batch as a tribute to the Royal Army Service Corps.”
Only 58 bottles were produced in 2017 from a blend of Jamaican pure single rum that was committed to flagons in 1954 for supply to the British Royal Navy. The minute quantity and rarity of this historically charged liquid makes this limited edition bottle even more portentous.
Olivier Scars, a renowned rum blogger (see Who Rhum The World), had the enviable opportunity to taste this remarkable rum in 2017 and below are his tasting notes. Olivier’s expertise is demonstrated by his involvement in assisting Luca Gargano in the selection of rums for the famous Caroni Employee Series.
Olivier awarded this rum 5/5 stars:
"The color is dark mahogany.
On the nose, there are intense notes of molasses, almost burnt caramel, cigar box, leather and prune.
The attack is mastered and the mouth is heavy and sticky on the molasses with notes of liquorice, moist wood, overripe red fruit, tonka bean and tobacco.
Very nice length."
The Velier R.A.S.C Jamaican Rum 1954 is a historic rum which pays tribute to the long connection between the Royal Navy and this cherished spirit. It showcases the exceptional quality of pure single rums produced in the Carribbean from distant times, where examples are seldom seen.
Rarely sighted on the secondary market, our current auction offers a very unique opportunity to acquire such a legendary bottle.