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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.


Suggested Recipe

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:

The Painkiller

2 oz Pusser’s Rum (some recipes call for 95 proof)
4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz orange juice
1 ounce coconut cream
crushed ice
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)


5 Responses to “Pusser’s (Blue Label) Rum”

  1. Fat Rum Pirate said

    I quite like this rum (I got a bottle of Pussers GROG free with it which is interesting to say the least!).

    It’s much in line with most Navy Rums available in the UK (Lambs, Captain Morgan and Woods for instance) however this seems to have a bit more depth and tastes similar to Admiral Rodney.

    I enjoyed it with the grog mix and with coke. It’s not a rum that I think is really for sipping but if you like a roughly 50/50 mix rum and coke it works very well.

    I also enjoyed the extra alcohol kick it gives. Its great on a freezing cold English evening (ie tonight!)

  2. Dave said

    I really wanted to like this due to the history. My rating of it after 15% of a bottle is along with Rus however. I prefer to go neat with a Coke chase that is delayed by a varying amount of time, depending on the rum, between never and “can’t swallow it otherwise”. This one is in the latter camp for me. The nose is rather nice and without much/any raw alcohol fume, yet it had an undercurrent that made me cautious. Sipping it confirmed the negative hint for me. It’s not the pepper/twang on the tongue when muddled in the mouth, something I normally prefer to do and don’t mind being ‘scolded’ for as long as I get some reward too. With this rum, for some reason that I hope is palate specific, the vapors produced in upper back of the mouth/throat when muddling it in the mouth strike me as bilious. There is no other word for it and it bums me the hell out. It’s almost like they managed to snatch defeat from the mouth of victory. I can just make out that there is a woodiness to the vapors, but it is overwhelmed by the ‘porcelain god aftermath’ sensation. Again this is probably just an artifact of my particular senses, chemistry, and smoking habit, as I trust one of you guys would have picked it up otherwise. It’s the first rum that’s prompted me to comment at least though! 🙂

    • Hi Dave

      Its funny but I was sampling another rum which was very similar to the Pusser’s Blue Label recently (the Plantation Guyana 2000). Another rum from the Guyanese Wooden Pot still which really has that “pepper/twang” thing going on (I was tempted to use the term wood-squeal in my review). But you seem to be hinting at something else which you call ‘bilious’ which was the main detractor for you with respect to the Pusser’s. I wonder if maybe you were catching hints of sulfour which would be undetectable to most of us, but to which you may be particularly attuned. That is just a guess of course, but the terminology you use leads me to think in that direction.

      Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experience with this rum. I hope you feel the urge to comment more often.



  3. rus said

    well u sure enjoyed it more than i…a bit rough with a twang,,of course i only drink neat as i am not into the fruity combos to hide the rum’s taste but 2 each his own liver poison lol….bought a bottle in totalwine ,went out to car park and took a swig and brought it back right away as per their policy of exchange…another bottle of zaya cheers chip

    • Yeah we don’t disagree too often rus, but I guess that ‘bite’ which I felt was tempered by the light caramel sweetness, was not tempered in your experience. I actually liked this rum quite a bit when I sipped it neat, hence the score creeping up to 85, but it is definitely one that I mix more than I sip.

      Sounds like Totalwine has a very accommodating returns policy!


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