Pusser’s Rum British Navy (40% ABV)

imageMuch to my uncontrollable excitement Pusser’s Rum Ltd, recently re-vamped (and to be fair tidied up) their range of rums.  This was done partly to introduce new expressions but also to avoid confusion caused by the numerous “Blue Label” versions on offer in varying territories.

In an email exchange with the lovely Laura Addis from Pusser’s Rum she kindly sent me a PDF file with all the new rum’s available in the Pusser’s range (sadly not the actual rum’s).  Please note if you find a bottle/decanter with a different proof than those noted it is OLDER than this.  Much like the many bottles of 54.5% ABV Blue Label the UK market is currently still not free of……


As part of my exchanges with Laura I was able to ask a few questions about Pusser’s.  I’d like to think that this review/article will help dispel some of the confusion surrounding the wonderful Pusser’s Brand.

For now I’ll concentrate on the presentation.  At first glance the bottle is identical to the 54.5% ABV “Blue Label”.  I had to dig out an old (obviously empty!) bottle to notice the differences.  I’ve saved you all the bother of this with the following side by side picture.  The older 54.5% ABV bottle is the closer of the two in the picture.

As you can see the difference between the new 40% ABV Blue Label in terms of appearance is far more subtle than the change in ABV!  The 54.5% version is still available in the UK as the “Gunpowder” Version.  Which now has a black label (see the PDF above for more detail).

I’ve already touched upon the reasoning behind Pusser’s re-branding.  To avoid the confusion caused by multiple ABV “Blue Label” offerings and two “Red Label” offerings.  However there was another reason for the 40% ABV bottle being introduced into the United Kingdom.

As Pusser’s Rum is the rum of the Royal British Navy, it would clearly be any PUSSERS Rum Review Demeraradiscerning British Sailor’s drink of choice.  Well, choice is something the British Sailor did not have when stationed an any Naval Base in the UK.  The maximum ABV allowed is 40%.  So in order to get the British Navy Rum to the British Navy, Pusser’s have opted to lower the strength.

In addition to this I asked Laura if she felt the new 40% ABV complete with a price tag of around £20 might entice a few supermarkets to stock Pusser’s.  Whilst Laura stated that they would consider any such moves it was done more with the Naval Bases in mind.  In my opinion to be able to get a rum like Pusser’s for £20 (even with a lower ABV) can only entice more customers. Maybe the Lamb’s and Captain Morgan crowd.  The fiery 54.5% ABV may have also put off a few more genteel Englishmen.

Something I had long wondered about was the difference in the actual rum when bottled at the varying strengths (the Germans actually had a Blue/Green Label Pusssers with an ABV of 75%!).  Laura confirmed that the rum blend was always exactly the same.  The only rum which is different is the 15 Year Old rum which isn’t based on the traditional navy tot rum.  Laura stated that the only real difference to be found would the sensory experience of the different proofs.  Laura didn’t recommend drinking shots of the 75% ABV Pussers and I think they largely expect their relatively young rum to be mixed.

My review of the newly released Pusser’s Spiced was featured on the Pusser’s Rum website (thank you very much for that Pusser’s!) so I asked Laura if they had any plans for any more Pusser’s expressions in the future.  I actually a suggested a Christmas spiced rum, so if I see one of those in future I might have to ask for my cut!  Laura confirmed that Pusser’s would be releasing some limited edition blends in mid 2015.  Exciting stuff!  But still not the biggest surprise of my exchanges with Laura.

I confidently asked Laura about the blend used in Pusser’s.  Jamaican (obviously), Demeraran, maybe a little Bajan?  WRONG!.  Pussers does not have any Jamaican rum in its blend.  It is a blend of 5 stills in Guyana (Demerara) and Trinidad it is heavily influenced by the Port Mourant double wooden pot still.  To be honest this revelation has led me to look more into the rums of Trinidad.  I think I may be missing something!  To be honest the label states there is also rum from Barbados in the blend so I may have to clarify again with Laura.

So with all these things established (please read the PDF there is some great information there) I shall finally settle down with a glass of the new 40%.

Pusser's Rum Navy Demerara ReviewFirstly the nose, it is as expected the classic Pusser’s aroma.  It is a slightly less pungent version of the 54.5% ABV Pussers.  More of the Demeraran influence is apparent on the nose.  Its sweet and fruity.  Plump raisins and currants.  Theres a little bit of Christmas pudding (I know very seasonal!) in the mix.  I’m still getting a pungent cooked banana nose which reminds me of Jamaican rum but I now understand maybe the influence of the Port Mourant and a bit of the Trini rum used.  I was surprised about the Trinidad rum.  I’ve found that they are relatively light and inoffensive (the exact opposite of Jamaican rum’s).  Think Angostura 1919.  However, my tastings were/are limited.  I have since sourced a 16 year old Caroni which is bottled by a small company in Scotland and is issued in a 50cl bottle as Ancient Mariner Navy Rum.  It too is based on the original naval recipe.  There are similarities to Pusser’s but it is clearly the preserve of just the one island so doesn’t really taste the same.  Pusser’s has been called the “single malt” of rum partly due to its lack of additives (very unusual for “British” Navy style rums) and possibly partly due to its slightly whisky like profile on the nose.  I understand a lot of whisky drinkers enjoy Pussers.  I’m not big on whisky but even I can detect whisky notes on the nose.  It does have that kind of earthy smell to it a bit like a peaty single malt.

So on with the tastings.  I understand a lot of people enjoy sipping Pusser’s.  At 40% and with no further dilution the new “Blue Label” should offer a less harsh experience than the 54.5% offering maybe?  Not really, this is still a very strong, grown up, man’s rum.  This isn’t going to appeal to someone who enjoys an occasional Sailor Jerry and Cola or a Bacardi Gold and Ginger Beer.  Personally, I can just about get away with sipping Pussers but this isn’t intended as an aged sipper.  When sipped it gives quite a burn and leaves a very long aftertaste in the mouth which is pleasant but it isn’t something I found I could repeat and actually really enjoy.  This is a relatively young rum and as a result if you look around the Pusser’s website you will see various cocktail recipes.  A Pussers Painkiller is especially enjoyable, though I wouldn’t recommend having too many – they are deceptively potent!

Pusser’s have their aged sipping rum in the 15 Year Old “Nelsons Blood” expression.  This Pusser’s is for drinking as chasers with pints or mixing.  As with so many younger rums I head immediately for my trusty cola.  With one of my favourite rums now available for £20, (admittedly I lose a lot of ABV but then again I don’t use measurers except when reviewing!) this has hangover written all over it….

The thing I have found when drinking Pusser’s is that it is very moreish.  It has just the right balance of sweet, dark Demerara rum balanced with a fiery kick of what I now know to be Trini rum (or possibly just some of the younger rougher Demerara).  Its sweet and enjoyable but much like Goslings Black Seal or Myers it has that addictive rummy taste, which rums such as Zacapa and Pyrat just do not pack.  This is rum for a hip flask when you’re watching football in the park or waiting for the bus on a freezing Saturday afternoon.  Mix Pusser’s 40% ABV with cola and you have a very complex warming mixed drink.

The rum is rich, warming, sweet, slightly oaked with hints of black pepper and allspice.  It is a fiery concoction.  It perhaps shouldn’t work as well as it does but it does.  It can be a sipper but I just find it amazing when mixed liberally with cola.

As I’ve said before not everyone will like Pussers Rum, but then again not all of us are blessed with exquisite taste.  For those lucky enough get yourself a bottle of this wonderful winter warmer.  At £20 you really have no excuse!

5 stars



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