How Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum Got Its Name


Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum is the only original, authentic rum of the Royal Navy. Here’s the story behind its name.

pussers rum black tot day

In the “days of wooden ships and iron men,” the British Royal Navy issued a daily rum ration to all sailors, known as the “tot.” The sailor in charge of doling out the rum was called the Purser, more commonly referred to as “Pusser” by the seamen.

Lovingly appointed as the “best-kept secret of the sea,” rum was more than just a drink to the sailors—it was a daily relief from the struggles they faced on board ship. Rum encouraged camaraderie amongst the men, and the daily tot became the highlight of their long and difficult days.

Given its importance, sailors took their daily rum rations seriously. When rumours would spread on board ship that the Pusser was watering down the rum, the sailors deemed it unacceptable. In order to “prove” the rum’s strength (along with his character ), the Pusser would douse a few grains of gunpowder in the rum and attempt to light it on fire with a magnifying glass. If the mixture ignited, the rum was “at proof.” If not, the Pusser could be tossed to sea!

gpbottleThe ritual of the daily tot continued for over 300 years. However, it came to an abrupt halt on July 31, 1970, now known as “Black Tot Day.” On that day, the Admiralty announced that it would no longer distribute the daily ration, breaking the hearts of sailors who held the tradition so dear. It wasn’t for another nine years when entrepreneur Charles Tobias obtained the rights to the original Admiralty-approved rum blend that “Pusser’s Rum” became available to the public.

Today, Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum is the only rum that boasts the original strength (54%), and flavours that Royal Navy sailors cherished for centuries. Think you can drink like a sailor? Give Gunpowder Proof a try.