Drinks | Sailor's Delight
On July 31, 1970, the British Royal Navy ended its age-old custom of pouring a daily "tot" of rum for all men onboard its ships; the anniversary of what became known as Black Tot Day is still ruefully observed by some sailors with long memories. This year, though, the old salts will have something to celebrate, and to celebrate with: Sea Wynde rum, a new spirit modeled after the navy's recipe. It's the creation of Mark Andrews, a Texas oilman who has lately turned his attention from derricks to distilleries. (His Great Spirits Company makes Knappogue Castle single malt Irish whiskey, which won F&W's Spirit of the Year award in 1999.) A few years ago, Andrews bought up about 650 dusty, wicker-covered ceramic demijohns of British Royal Navy Imperial rum that had been auctioned off after Black Tot Day and had been sitting in an underground warehouse ever since. Then he began figuring out how to make more of it. He learned that the navy's finest was a mixture of rums from Guyana and Jamaica, so he and spirits expert Jim Murray went shopping in the tropics. Using the original product as their benchmark, they blended five pot-still rums from those countries and came up with Sea Wynde. It's powerfully aromatic; pour some into a glass and the room fills with the toasty smell of bananas roasted in butter. Great Spirits will part with the demijohns for a sum that runs to four figures apiece, but a bottle of Sea Wynde goes for $40, a price low enough to make those old salts think about reinstating their daily tot (800-882-8140).