Pusser’s (Blue Label) Rum
Review: Pusser’s Blue Label Rum 85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 29, 2011
Pusser’s Rum is advertised as the original rum of the British Royal Navy. And it is a fact that for over 300 years it was a tradition of the British Navy that each member of the crew was issued a daily ‘tot’ of rum. This tradition began in 1655, and by 1731, the tradition of the daily ‘tot’ was in general use throughout the British Navy. As it was the ship’s purser who was responsible for issuing the rum. The Rum became known as Pusser’s Rum in a sort of slang derivation of the term ‘Purser’s Rum’.
Although the naval tradition of the daily tot had ended, in 1979 Charles Tobias obtained the rights and the blending information for the British Naval Rum, and formed Pusser’s Ltd. on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. His company produces their Pusser’s Rum following the blending information and the traditions of the Admiralty, including producing the rum from wooden pot stills just as the had been the tradition for over 200 years.
I should note that a sample bottle of Pusser’s Rum was provided to me for this review by the River Valley Beverage Group, which is the liquor agency responsible for distributing Pusser’s Rum in Alberta.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
Pusser’s Rum arrives in the bottle pictured to the left. The label is well done and includes some important information for the rum connoisseur. For starters the label makes it clear that Pusser’s considers this rum to be the original navy rum. It also states proudly, “Naturally full and rich. No flavoring agents used.” This statement that the rum contains no flavoring agents is particularly encouraging. My belief is that most ‘Navy’ style rums do include flavouring, and I am intrigued that the rum based upon the original recipe of the Admiralty does not.
Finally, we notice that the rum is a product of the British Virgin Islands, Trinidad, and Guyana. This is a clue to the heritage of blending which this rum represents. Some of that Guyanese rum is most certainly that portion of the rum which is distilled in wooden pot stills as the only production wooden pot stills in the world are located in Guyana. However rum from Trinidad and perhaps from the British Virgin Islands are also apparently part of the blend, although it could be true that the only part of the production that the British Virgin Islands represents is the bottling.
Other nice features of the presentation are the small booklet on the neck of the bottle, and the nice corked enclosure.
In the Glass 8.5/10
I poured out a small sample of Pusser’s into a glencairn glass and began my review with a good look at the rum before I began to nose it. It is a bright golden coloured spirit which, after a quick tilt and a slow swirl, laid a light oily sheen on the inside of the glass. After a moment or two of delay small slender legs ran back down into the rum.
The initial nose from the glass is full of oak tannins which have been tainted with a spicy toffee. I smell orange peel, brown sugar, and light baking spices in that tangy oak spice. I like the nose, it is firm, spicy, and full of character. All of the rich smells and aromas grow in the breezes as the rum decants. Perhaps the assertive aroma is helped by the 42 % alcohol by volume bottling strength of the rum.
In the Mouth 51/60
This is a little hot and spicy in the initial mouth feel. The rum has a fresh oaky flavour with tannins disguised as tangy orange zest. As well, a firm vanilla and a light toffee complement this spicy oak and serves to temper its bite. There are some caramel flavours and some baking spices which give the rum depth, but it is when the rum is allowed to decant that everything picks up a notch with all these flavours melding together in a nice spicy and lightly sweet rum.
The Pusser’s website encourages you to add cola to the rum, making the assertion that the rum flavour will push through the cola creating a delightful cocktail. When I follow the website lead, I find that they are correct, the rum really does have the strength of character to push through the cola. This leads me to believe that this Pusser’s Blue Label Rum is going to be an excellent cocktail rum.
In the Throat 12.5/15
I found that the rum was much nicer to sip with ice than it was to sip neat. The sharpness of the spice is subdued with ice, and the toffee and caramel flavours become more evident. Even on ice, the finish has a mild spicy burn that stays in the throat and heats the palate. However there are also some nice sweet caramel flavours that linger with the spice.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
I like the Pusser’s Blue Label Rum. It has a nice spicy character with a good balance between the hot oak spice and the caramel sweetness. With an ice-cube or two the rum is a decent sipping rum. However, I will admit I was more inclined to mix up cocktails than to sip the rum on its own. As indicated earlier in the review, the rum performs really well in cocktails, and I have included a good suggestion down below.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
The Painkiller Cocktail is the obvious choice for Pusser’s Rum. In fact this cocktail has been trademarked, and a true Painkiller may only be made with Pusser’s Rum. This has led to a bit of controversy, and if you are interested you can follow this link to what I believe is the most fair-minded write-up on the subject that I have found, Pusser’s Rum vs PKNY.
If you are more interested in the cocktail, I have provided the recipe below:
2 oz Pusser’s Rum (some recipes call for 95 proof)
4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz orange juice
1 ounce coconut cream
Cinnamon and Ground nutmeg
Mix in a tall glass filled with crushed ice
Sprinkle the top with Cinnamon and Nutmeg
Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
And remember, the aim is not to drink more, it is to drink better!
My Scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails.)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)