Peggy and I had a chance last night to visit our favorite watering hole, Alameda’s own Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, where we signed up for the Kill-Devil Club and started in on the list of 97 rums.    Only two patrons so far had made it all the way through the list, and their names were displayed in places of honor above the bar.  I found the David McMurray Trinidad and the Westerhall Plantation to both be very fine out of the rums sampled (David McMurray, flight of five; Westerhall; Vizcaya VSOP).  But the real treat of the evening was the British Royal Navy Imperial Rum, the very stuff served to officers and VIPs on special occaisons, as detailed below.   And I’m here to tell you it was worth it, even at $60/oz.  Smooth, even at 108 proof; richly flavored yet not oversweet, delicious.  If you can’t make it to Alameda you can buy it here, only $2999.99 for the 1 Imperial gallon jug and presentation set pictured above.

Some more information:
British Royal Navy Imperial Rum Tasting Notes
F. Paul Pacult, The Spirit Journal 
Appearance  The deep color is mahogany with ruby core highlights.
Nose  Impeccable purity. Immediately after the pour, exotic scents of rubber tire, lanolin, and black pepper greet the olfactory sense. With time in the glass, the aroma slowly begins to unfold in the second whiff, offering mature, rind-like scents of bacon fat and poppy seed. In the third sniffing, the fat/oil component takes charge, providing a substantial aromatic phase. In the fourth and last nosing pass, following nearly ten minutes of aeration, indistinct notes of herbs (ginger? cardamom?), cocoa butter, molasses, and steamed asparagus get added to the peculiar aromatic stew.
Taste  The palate entry is unctuous, layered, intensely honeyed, and molasses-like—the midpalate stage is opulent, cocoa-like, buttery, and shows traces of rancio.
Finish The aftertaste is long and is laden with ripe and sweet tastes of dried fruit, almond butter, and oak resin. Most of all, I liked the ethereal touch of rancio on the tongue
Comments An interesting gorilla of a rum.

 and from  Rum Numb Davey on Tiki Central

Martiki: If you think $62 a dram is steep for some premium rum, let me illuminate my most prized spirit in my collection (along with my sole bottle of 50 year old Macallan). The “brand” is really not a brand at all but a description. The product is British Royal Navy Imperial Rum, and it is, in fact, the REAL deal. Pussers and Lambs have some legitimacy as Royal Navy Rum, but the stock of wonderfully aged alembic spirits distilled in Jamaica and Guyana that were aged in American oak barrels and casked at 108 proof was the British Vatted Rum for issue to the Jack Tars on deck. Most TCer’s probably know the infamous day, July 31, 1970 – known as Black Tot Day, when the Royal Navy admiralty suspended the maritime privilege of one half gill, or one eighth of a pint to be issued out by the Ship Purser with great solemnity and pomp (the original measure was a gill, which is equal to one quarter pint or 5 US Ounces –Military bearing?).

The American Navy ended the Rum ration on September 1, 1862, the Limey’s closed the Grog shop in 1970, and the PC cops finally did our neighbors to the North –the Canadian Navy served their last measure to sailors on December 2, 1971. (Take off, Hoseheads!)

In any event, when the Royal Navy decreased the ration from one gill to one half gill on January 1, 1851, Rum brokers experimented with blending and the blending formulas eventually became closely guarded secrets. They carried over the surplus rum blend akin to the Solera system for Sherry or in the old Cognac Houses. This created layered, rich, noble rum with distinct rancio. Since the quantity of the ration of rum was reduced the Sea Lords demanded that QUALITY standards increased. After, the notorious Black Tot Day in 1970, the remaining stock silently aged in bonded underground warehouses in Jamaica under the authority and supervision of the British Government who owned the old stock. His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, Duke of York, served a served in the Royal Navy, seeing action in the Falklands War aboard HMS Invincible. The British Royal Navy Imperial Rum was served at his wedding to Fergie, and at various other Royal functions. All the while the rum slumbered away with only small sales to generate resources to benefit Royal Navy’s Sailor’s Fund. Finally, a shrewd and charming Oil Man named Mark Andrews from Houston, Texas acquired the remaining stock of 650 wicker-covered ceramic demijohns. He previously purchased Knappogue Castle in Co. Clare, Eire in 1966.

He found vast stocks of aged Irish whiskey in the cellar, which he inherited, making the Old Irish Manse a fantastic investment. Texas Oil went bust, and a new venture was born. When Life gives you lemons you make lemonade (or cocktails)! With this twist of fate Knappogue Castle Irish Single Malt Whiskey was born. He started Great Spirits (An Independent Liquor Import Company), which has since evolved to Castle Brands, after a merger with Roaring Water Bay Spirits, an Irish company that has enjoyed great success with its Boru Vodka and Clontarf Irish Whiskey.

In any event, they not only have the British Royal Navy Imperial Rum stock, but they produce a premium branded rum under the Sea Wynde label comprised of five pot still rums from Jamaica and Guyana. I definitely like Sea Wynde, and still have a couple of bottle from the launch. After all, Jim Murray was the consultant on the brand and he consulted with us when I worked for Cadenheads. Spirits Journalist and publisher, F. Paul Pacult of the prestigious Spirit Journal gives it his highest recommendation, which is for him a five star rating. As good as, Sea Wynde is, it cannot touch the absolute sublime complexity of the BRNIR. I obtained a fantastic demijohn of BRNIR (wholesale) after the launch. I tasted it with Mark Andrews at the second Whisky Expo at the Nikko Hotel in San Fran a few years ago. I knew it was not practical, but I finagled a bottle at wholesale from my Brands Manager at Southern Wine & Spirits for a whopping $3,500.00 clams. That’s’ right people my wholesale price was $3,500.00! I can see the blank stares in all across Tikidom thinking what kind of fool old Rum Numb Davey is just blowing his retirement like a chump. Consider this, I am a bachelor and was always impractical. Like my moniker implies I loves me some rum, and this is very special rum! It is history in the bottle, and it is a beautiful package. I have reluctantly shared some, at various times, since I purchased it in 2002. It is mostly a Christmas, New Years and Birthday dram for me, and I do mean dram – 1 solitary ounce. I keep it away from my own home bar, and stashed with my vintage wine collection in a climate controlled cold storage. I know Rum Jungle offers the demijohn for $5,000 to High Rollers in Mandalay Bay, and although RJ is expensive they do have about 150 or so rums, and worth a visit to the gambling Rummy. I think Asia de Cuba restaurants stock BRNIR which can be ordered by the snifter (Garçon, pour it in a Tiki Mug, Please!)

The British Royal Navy Imperial 108.6-proof rum is a beautifully packaged classic ceramic demijohn encased in wicker, along with a glass decanter, funnel and stopper. A normal retail price should be around$5,500 to $6,000. If you cannot afford it, perhaps a bottle of Bacardi Millennium Rum which retailed for an impressive $800 might fit your budget! Back to my bottle of Ancient Macallan, while celebrating Hogmany in Edinburgh in 2000, I paid (on my credit card) a whopping sum of £1900.00 for a rare bottle of 1949 Vintage Macallan Millennium 50 Y.O. Single Malt and it is UNOPENED in its’ wooden and copper case. That’s nothing, on April17, 2002, an unlabelled bottle of ‘The Macallan 60 Years Old’, was sold at auction, by McTear’s in Glasgow, for £20,150 – setting a new world record for the most expensive bottle of Scotch whisky. Park Avenue Liquor in NYC lists the Macallan Millennium 50 y.o. for $5,000 now.


  1. 1 Chris Lightfoot

    What price would a collecter pay for a empty demijohn in the wicker casing also i have some in boxes with a plaque on the front and back explaining how it is the last of the navey rum.


  2. 2 Tommy Reddicks

    I have a pristine demijohn of unopened British Royal Navy Imperial Rum. Packed perfect with decanter and re-sealer. It comes with it’s certificate. I’ve had it in cool dry storage for a few years, but want to sell. Bidding starts at $5K. Please send offers to Buyer pays crating/shipping and handling.

  3. 3 G Morales

    I also have this rum with all the extras. It’s in immaculate condition and I’m sure it would be a treasure for a true rum enthusiast. 4K is my asking price. Post your info on here and I will contact you.

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  5. 5 William Hoffman

    I couldn’t resist responding to this. There is only one British Navy rum recipe, the one that was licensed by the British Navy for about 300 years. It all must be the identical 108-proof stuff or it can’t be called Navy Rum, Pusser’s Rum, or British Navy Rum. Pusser’s Rum costs about $40 for a 750ml bottle. If you’re paying much more than that you’re getting ripped-off. So much for your snooty friends!

  6. 6 William Hoffman

    Don’t get me wrong, guys. I like the finer things in life but the way I see it you’re way better off putting you money into your boat, house, business, whatever else. Like I said try a bottle of $40 Pusser’s Rum. It’s delicious. You won’t know the difference because other than the container there isn’t any.

  7. 7 William Hoffman

    Not only that, but every time you buy a bottle of Pusser’s Rum you put money into the Tot Fund, for families of fallen British sailors. You don’t get that when you deal with the old stuff in historical bottles. I think I’ll put my money on the living, especially in these times.

  8. 8 Robert

    I’m interested in one of these gallons if they are complete, seal intact with presentation case. Please contact me.

  9. 9 Simon

    I would be interested in a perfect condition demijohn with intact seal, certificate and presentation set. Please write me if you have one for sale.

  10. 10 ginge steabler

    I was in the navy for 32 years and I have a 1 gallon jar of genuine navy rum sealed and unused exactly as it came out of the navy storehouse. if you are interested contact me at

  11. 11 Neil Price

    I have been buying these gallon jars of ex RN rum for the last 10 years. I have drunk about 8 of them and have 2 left. Many became available after 1970 and were bought in bulk and shipped to Gibraltar (Duty Free) where they were then individually sold on. (They have all gone now). I pay/have paid between £280-£600 per gallon. Talk of $5000 is ridiculous. My job in the RN was to store, account for and issue the rum (amongst other victualling matters). I can tell you neither Pusser’s nor Navy Neaters nor Wood’s are a patch on the genuine article despite what they say. Like I said – I have been drinking the genuine article since 1965, used to issue and drink it and therefore am somewhat of an expert. The nearest I have ever tasted was Black Tot Rum which retails at £600 per 70cl bottle. I conducted the product launch for Black Tot rum on HMS Belfast in August 2010 for the 40th anniversary of Black Tot Day (Google it and check out my collection of RN Rum memorabilia). Chiefpusser.

  12. 12 chris barrand

    Like Neil I have bought in the UK 16 gallons in the wicker flagons from various sources 2004-2007. All with seals intact. The difference in taste between flagons is marginal. The difference in taste between everything else is huge. The price of $3000 and up – even with the fancy label and bits and pieces – don’t add up to current values that can be found in various auction houses and private sales in UK. It may reach this value in about 10-15 years when Neil and I have drunk through our collections. Pay this amount only if you are very rich, desperate or part of a club! Meanwhile up spirits and the toast The Queen God Bless Her.

  13. 13 Neil Price

    …..and don’t forget – The Royal Navy do NOT stand for the Loyal Toast.

  14. 14 Simon

    Im ex Navy and still have my gallon from gib 1978 at £8 plus £19 customs on return to uk: love to find love to find another.


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  27. 27 Dennis

    I have an unopened bottle of this I bought in 1979 in Gibraltar. Bought two and the unopened one has 1968 on the wax seal.

    It came across the Atlantic in a torpedo tube.

    Saving for retirement party unless I auction off to help fund retirement:)

    The bottle we opened New Year’s Eve 1979 was amazing.


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