WHAT MAKES PUSSER’S RUM DIFFERENT?
“Navy Rum” is not just a name for dark rum. Originally it was the name of a specific type of rum distilled for the Admiralty in wooden pot stills in lieu of the normal metal ones. The distillation of rum in wood imparts a truly unique flavor that can only be described as “full and rich,” making most others bland by comparison. This flavor is unique to the wooden process, and cannot be duplicated from any other type of distillation; interestingly Pusser’s is still distilled in the same original Admiralty stills. Rum that is not distilled in wood cannot achieve the unique flavor of a real Navy Rum. While others may have designated their product to be a navy rum by the mere inclusion of the phrase ‘Navy Rum’ on their label, they can never be a Navy Rum any more than a Rolls Royce logo placed on a Ford doesn’t make a Ford a Rolls Royce. A real navy rum has to be distilled in wood.
In the world of spirits production, there are only two production-capacity wooden pot stills remaining in the world. Like single malt whiskeys whose distinct and rich flavors are the product of pot stills (and not the modern continuous still), Pusser’s continues to be distilled in the same wooden stills as it has for more than for more than 200 years! These are the original stills that produced the Royal Navy’s “Pusser’s Rum”. They are the bedrock of Navy Rum, the vital part of the distillation process that makes a true Navy Rum like Pusser’s so distinctive in its taste and so different from other dark and golden rums that are distilled in ordinary metal stills. Most all rums today are distilled in modern continuous stills that came on line at the turn of the 19th century.
The wooden staves of these two old, stills are impregnated with 200 years of esters and congeners – the organic compounds found naturally in wine and spirits that impart flavor to them. No other stills in the world can reproduce these flavors because all modern stills are made from metal which absorb nothing, and thus have nothing to impart in the way of flavor to a spirit during the distillation process. In contrast, wood soaks up the flavor of whatever it contains. In the case of the wooden stills, continuous usage over hundreds of years has made the wood of these stills extraordinarily flavorful.
Following distillation, all rums are aged for some time in wood because aging in wood imparts smoothness and flavor. But unlike other rums which are bland out of the still, Pusser’s begins its aging process with a rich flavor already in place from the distillation process, one that would not be possible without the wooden distillation. Thus when the aging process is completed, the full flavor of Pusser’s surpasses by far that of any other rum because the wooden distillation provides an extraordinary head start over anything distilled in metal.
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.
The photos show the stills from one side. Charles Tobias, Pusser’s Chairman, notes that the flavor of Pusser’s cannot be replicated because so much of its unique bouquet emanates from the wood of these very old stills. There’s no way to produce this flavor in metal because metal absorbs nothing and therefore has nothing to impart to the distillate. Like single malt whiskeys that are also pot stilled, Pusser’s is more costly to produce. This is because the stills are old and of wood; they are very inefficient. Pusser’s is still distilled in the same original wooden pot stills that were used to distill the Admiralty’s rum. Most other rums today are distilled in modern continuous stills that are very efficient when compared to wooden distillation that, to the contrary, is very inefficient and therefore significantly more costly. But nothing can touch the flavour that wood imparts to rum that is distilled this way. If we didn’t do it like this, it wouldn’t be a Navy Rum; it wouldn’t taste the same, and it wouldn’t be Pusser’s Rum.
As for a test of the rich flavor of Pusser’s vs. others: try pouring a measured one ounce of Pusser’s Rum into a glass filled with ice and a measured 4-ounces of Coca Cola. Then do the same with any other rum, and taste the difference. It is immediate. You will find that PUSSER’S is the only one whose full bouquet punches through the mix. The others, including the Mt. Gay, Appletons, Myers, the Bacardi’s and so forth, for the most part will have their taste buried in the Coke. Most will greatly sweeten the drink because of the extra sugar that will have been added to achieve smoothness. By comparison, Pusser’s is all natural. No sugar or flavoring agents have been added. It is still the same Admiralty rum, the original Navy Rum, as it has been for more than 300 years.