Black Tot Day memorializes the day on which the Royal Navy discontinued its daily rum ration, known as the daily tot. “Round the world” in every ship of the Royal Navy, glasses were raised in their final salute, and it’s no exaggeration to say, that at that moment, many a strong man shed a tear at the passing of a tradition so old and fine, that was to be no more.
Click History of Naval Tot image to enlarge.
On Friday 31st July 2015, sailors and ex-sailors across the UK will ‘Up Spirits’ and take a tot of rum in remembrance of the 45th anniversary of Black Tot Day – the day that the traditional rum ration was abolished in the Royal Navy.
Taking a tot of rum was one of the longest unbroken traditions in British Navy history. For more than 300 years, generations of seafaring personnel have responded to the daily ‘Up Spirits’ call, piped at noon with a second call at 5 or 6pm, to imbibe their free ration of rum or ‘tot’.
The Royal Navy’s official love affair with rum was ended on July 31, 1970, a day that became known as Black Tot Day. The final tot was poured as usual at 6 bells in the forenoon watch (11am) after the pipe of ‘up spirits’.
Some sailors wore black arm bands; tots were ‘buried at sea’ and even mock funeral processions complete with coffin, accompanying drummers and piper commiserated the occasion; it was a day of mourning that prompted headlines in newspapers like The Sun – “Yo-ho-ho! Rebel Jacks threaten mutiny” and The Mirror – “Rum plea by sailors in black armbands.”
Maker’s of Pusser’s Rum continue to celebrate the Tot with their own Pusser’s Rum – A Naval Spirit. The rum ration is now a thing of the past, old sailors and civvies alike are still able to enjoy a ‘tot’ of authentic Navy Rum. Production of Pusser’s rum today is in accordance with the original blend approved by the Admiralty.