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Rum Review: Pusser's Blue Label British Navy Rum
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How do you rate Pusser's Blue Label Rum (five is best)?
5
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
4
55%
 55%  [ 5 ]
3
33%
 33%  [ 3 ]
2
11%
 11%  [ 1 ]
1
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 9

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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 7:01 am    Post subject: Rum Review: Pusser's Blue Label British Navy Rum Reply with quote

Pusser's Blue Label British Navy Rum: "Up Spirits"

Special Note:
Blue Label appears in the Navy rum section for obvious reasons. It is included here because it is also one of the finest examples of how powerful and aromatic pot stilled rums taste. True Jamaican rum depends on their unique fermentation - which is both long and is based on the use of "dunder" from previous batches - and also pot stills. Blue Label and Wray & Nephew White Overproof are excellent examples.

Whatever you do, spend some time with these and learn to appreciate them...


*******

If you don't know already, Pusser's Blue Label is the commercial version of the rum served to British sailors for over 330 years, dating from 1640 until July 31, 1970 (Black Tot Day) when the daily tot was retired. Originally sailors received a pint of this strong brew, which was later diluted and reduced. This rum was the father of "grog".

Neither the formula nor the rum was ever made available to the public. In 1979 a sailor/entrepreneur, Charles Tobias finally reached an agreement to produce what became known as Pusser's Blue Label in strict accord with the secret British formula. He agreed to keep the blend secret and to make donations to The Royal Navy Sailor's Fund, and is currently the largest single contributor. What we do know about the "secret" formula is that the British Navy Rum (and Pussers) was/is made from five West Indian pot stilled rums with absolutely no additives (found in many other modern rums). Allegedly these are distilled from the few remaining wood stills in the world.

I have some information that the original blender (the Man Company) used rums from Trinidad and Demarara, along with a bit of caramel and burnt sugar coloring. Whatever the formula, this a powerful, full-bodied, no nonsense rum. In your readings you will find that most reviews are fairly disrepectful of Pusser's Blue as being little more than a slightly overproof mixer. Exception: Bilgemonkey, who loves a real, kick ass rum.

It is well to remember that it was the Brits in Barbados who fathered rum, and whose thirsty sailors demanded a fine, robust product worthy of hard working sailors and officers. Pussers is still made to the exacting specifications first created in 1810. More later, but enough for now, the reviews:

Sue Sea:

Quote:
My first taste of Pusser's Blue Label was at the annual kayak races in Key Largo, attended by both local and international racers. Pusser's was a sponsor and gave out free Pusser's "Painkiller's", yumm! We were feeling no pain then I will tell you. I enjoy the history and tradition of rum - Jim is mad for it - and Pusser's history is very meaningful. It gives us a rare opportunity to taste real, classic rum from one of the few (if any) formulas kept intact. By tasting the old standards we can better appreciate the new.

I will say that Pusser's was hard to nail down. When I first nosed it I got a hint of higher citrus - tangerine or orange against a pungent background of light clove, and what I can only describe as a vinegary light diesel with a kind of celery sourness. Jim and I really wrestled with this one, then finally consulted our tasting wheels and decided to pull out his ginger rum tester. Aha! Darn if it wasn't ginger. All I can tell you that ginger in rum has an aroma of its own! I also noted a smokey, cigar box aroma. With reflection I find a high, very light vanilla caramel. Blue Label's explosive taste was of light clove, pungent dried apricot and alcohol, and developed with growing warmth. Whoa! The finish was strong, short and warm, no make that a hot peppery clove that warmed my throat and chest.

Pusser's Blue Label is a very lively, robust and consistent Jamaican style rum. It would be perfect after a good meal, perhaps with a cigar, much like Metaxa or a good cognac.


Me:

Pusser's Blue Label is a clear medium amber with nice, thick no nonsense legs. Remember this rum can be of slightly higher alcohol, my bottle is 42%. It needs to breathe and should be approached cautiously to obtain the high nose sweet citrus (possibly orange). I went deeper and got what I can only describe as a hard to define background of a vinegary, camphor, tarlike or leather aroma. The entry taste was of orange then became consistent with the aroma, medicinal, very much like chewing on a piece of leather hide. Mind you, I don't mean this in bad way, but for those of who who haven't graduated from the modern, sweet liqueur-like rums, your attention please! Blue Label's finish is a peppery, bright and chest warming.

Afternote: I do agree with Sue Sea re ginger. The background was hard to pinpoint and is certainly pungent and distinctive. My ginger rum tester was a reasonable match. Dave Broom also picks up prune, which I too got on a later tasting. He also states that adding a bit of water brings out additional sweetness and some leather - agreed. I do recommend that you stick with this rum for a few days, as it will grow on you (and I may have to raise my current rating, below).

A real rum for real men. FWIW, Blue Label has earned several gold medals in the dark rum class. Something to think about. In closing, please don't be misled by our ratings. Although Blue Label is not cheap, it is absolutely worth having as one of the few remaining unchanged formulas in rum. Personally, I believe owning and understanding this well made classic rum is essential both for a historical perspective and as a reference standard of its own.

Not to mention in "Painkillers". Pusser's is an acquired taste, one that will grow on you. I have been through several bottles of Blue Label, and would never be without one.

Rating as a sipper (10 is best): Sue Sea - 7, Jimbo - 8.
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NCyankee
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Joined: 30 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am a little confused on this rum - though I see no age statement on the bottle, I seem to remember at one time the NC site listed it as 4 years old, though it no longer does.

Lance at Liquorature says the bottle he reviewed of "Blue Label Nelson's Blood" was 47.5%, while mine is 42 and does not say anything about Nelson's Blood (which I thought was the Red Label 15 yr.)


*******
Capn's Log: Good post, thanks. For some reason I've seen Pussers sold in a number of proofs. The classic Blue Label - heavenly - like yours, is sold at 42%. We've gone through numerous bottles of Blue, and they're all at 42. OTOH the 15 year (which does have a red label, subtitled with "Nelson's Blood") is most typically sold at 40%. BTW, don't get hung up on the term "Nelson's Blood" which appears at random - if it doesn't say "15 years", it's not.

But there are others: there's a 54% version of the Blue sold in the UK, Germany, and Australia. The wonderful decanter versions of the Blue are available at varying proofs, most are 42% with the sole exception of the incredible "Trafalgar" rope decorated version, at 40%.

We once found a red labeled bottle at 40% (not 15 years), whose profile was notably different. When we spent an afternoon with the son of Pussers owner (who reps Pussers) he admitted that was a rare "experiment" that thankfully failed. Only the Blue Label and those marked "15 years" are based on the official British Navy formula.

Does that clear things up? Ha!
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RT
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Location: Erie PA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been a fan of the Pusser's Blue since first tasting it about 10 years ago. Sad to say, I have never tasted (or even seen) the 15 year aged version. Do you know if it is distributed into the US, and if so, to which states? Also, what is the price range? Thanks.
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NCyankee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a special order only item in NC, I have had it in a whiskey bar. Hi time wine in California sells it for around $55,



http://www.hitimewine.net/product.php?productid=28368&cat=&page=2
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jankdc
Cap'n


Joined: 26 Nov 2012
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Location: Cleveland

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Is the rating correct? Reply with quote

Is this rating correct?

Sue wrote in her review for Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon :

Quote:
I should also include my personal favorites - Pusser's Blue Label and Rum San Pablo - as well as Dos Maderas 5+3, and Wray & Nephews Overproof.


If it is one of her favorites, why a score of only "7"? Of her other two favorites, she scored a 9 for Wray and Nephews and while you didn't score the Dos Maderas individually, it was rated at 9 also.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question...


J... you have struck at the key issue for reviewers. Personal preference vs quality. As an example, Sue Sea is not a big fan of single malts, but we still sip and review them, some of them quite highly. On the other hand, there is a faux commercial Canadiand reviewer whose scores are entirely his personal preference.

The goal of good reviewing is to exclude one's own personal preferences and to simply score the spirit in terms of it's overall complexity, harmony, balance, consistency and integration. Is it boring or enticing, simple or complex. consistent or choppy, altered or authentic - you get the idea. A high score indicates high quality in these terms, and whether the spirit in question well represents its style.

These spirits are indeed Sue Sea's favorites when drinking for her own pleasure. Although there often is a correlation with score, at times there is not. Capish?
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Guevara88
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After watering down the 54%-Version of Pussers to roundabout 43% my girlfriend and I found it quite awesome. Similar to Seales 10 in many ways and quite a bang for the buck if you consider the higher proof.
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Hassouni
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why don't they sell that proof in the US. After all, in the US, bigger is better, including rum proof...
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Quine
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Joined: 05 Mar 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I approached this rum because you (Captn) and many others so highly recommended it. You mentioned above that "it isn't cheap" yet as it turns out it is (at $27) the least expensive rum in my collection, the next least being around $35.

So I've tried it and at this point I've poured about 1/4 of the bottle. I don't know about ginger, or orange or any of the other flavors/aromas you mention. I get some molasses, caramel, a little cane sweetness, but the biggest component struck me like the smell of old socks, no a wet forest, no, an ancient rotting forest. At first I thought it might be like a flavor I get sometimes in cognac, but that's not it either. Wait a minute, wet rotting forest? That's what a peat bog is! Peat, scotch, that's what this rum smells and tastes like! I haven't had a sip of scotch in 30 years so I'm just guessing here, but next week some of my scotch drinking friends will try Pusser's and I'll sip some of their scotch and we'll see what everyone thinks.

Meanwhile this flavor component hasn't in the least bit reduced, nor have I become inured to it. On the whole I do not like it (though as you say it does pair very well with cigars). If I liked it, I would drink scotch. But all is not lost. My tastes are very broad and sometimes I get tired of the sweetness of rums (even the less sweet ones). I think in those times, a glass or two of Pusser's blue will be just the contrast I look for.
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schlimmerdurst
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just saw a bargain for a bottle of Pusser's Blue. I also remembered that you guys praised it somehow. Of course, nowadays, I don't buy rum without first having a look at the "master list", and found Pusser's Blue to contain 20g/L sugar.

Looking at the Pusser's homepage, I find this:

"While the rich flavor of Pusser's Rum is natural, most other major rum brands add flavoring agents and sugar to make their products smoother and to give them body. By contrast, Pusser's uses no flavoring agents or sugar. It is all natural."

https://www.pussers.com/t-rum-difference.aspx

Now that's really something that makes me avoid Pusser's at all cost. Not only that they're lying, but also at the same time blaming others to adulterate rum. That's hipocrisy at its highest.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel your pain, but...


...their long time mainstay - Blue 40% (and also the 75%) are fine, test out at only 6 grams, which is just fine (keep in mind that wood extractives can amount to a few grams).

It is the good old standard 40% that had been the big seller, and which has great historical value. I agree regarding their apparent hypocrisy insofar as the 15 year and 54.5% (which tested much higher). Now while Drejer's tests cannot be as precise as ALKO or the Swedes, he is meticulous and I believe his tests are reasonably accurate. Tests by independent owners/webmasters are of course, subject to error (which is why multiple tests are listed).

In using the Master List, keep in mind who is testing. But back to Pusser's Blue at 40%: this is the one to buy for purity and historical authenticity.
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schlimmerdurst
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"But back to Pusser's Blue at 40%: this is the one to buy for purity and historical authenticity."

Then I'll look out for that one, and give Pusser's a chance. The bargain one was the 54.5% one, which I'll skip despite the good price. Thanks for the hint!
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Hassouni
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wouldn't historically accurate be 57% ABV?
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Quine
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was 6 months ago I started this thread. It is the blue 40% ABV that I'm drinking. I'm into my 3rd bottle. The moldy funk is still there and I've tried a few scotches since and not found that same flavour in them. Other rum reviewers suggest it's a flavour from the wooden pot still component in the rum. What ever it is I've come to enjoy it as a contrast to other rums.

All the published sugar tests are not testing for sugar directly and these indirect (specific gravity) tests are only suggestive. I try to find and sample rums that score low on these tests but some of my favourites score high. I like them anyway.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hassouni wrote:
Wouldn't historically accurate be 57% ABV?


Ha! Would you accept modern history? Good eyes, Hass and you are right. I was thinking more in terms of the official (and secret) British Royal Navy formula, which Tobias has done his best at honoring.

Quine wrote:
Was 6 months ago I started this thread. It is the blue 40% ABV that I'm drinking. I'm into my 3rd bottle. The moldy funk is still there and I've tried a few scotches since and not found that same flavour in them. Other rum reviewers suggest it's a flavour from the wooden pot still component in the rum. What ever it is I've come to enjoy it as a contrast to other rums.

All the published sugar tests are not testing for sugar directly and these indirect (specific gravity) tests are only suggestive. I try to find and sample rums that score low on these tests but some of my favourites score high. I like them anyway.


The funk (I abhor the latest made up "hogo" used by the new faux-reviewers) should properly be referred to, I believe, as dunder. This refers to the dunder pits used almost exclusively in Jamaica. These are actual large open pits in the ground, where the leftovers from past distillation are dumped. They are years old, and to be fair the smell is pretty well, funky.

No matter the aroma, this old and long fermented slop contained thousands of esters that only develop over time. The dunder was then added to new fermentations of molasses for the purpose of achieving amazingly complex results. For example, rum from short and ordinary fermentations may end up with no more than 50 esters, while a heavy Jamaican rum may have over a 1000. You read that right.

It's the dunder that you are experiencing. Now to the sugar tests.

For young rums, the hydrometer tests do in fact produce results that closely represent the sugar. For well aged rums, the tests will pick up some wood extractives that Richard Seale has estimated at perhaps 2 grams. Johnny Drejer (with the help of Seale) used the ATB's own methods. He compared his tests to those of the government laboratories (ALKO and the Swedes) and found his results were very close if not the same. He also made up known sugar/alcohol solutions, and found his hydrometer tests were for all practical purposes, on the money.

Thus these tests are more than suggestive.
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