Historic dockyard stops toÂ '˜rum-ember' aÂ topÂ Royal Navy tipple
CALLS of '˜up spirits' echoed out across the deck of an historic warship as old salts and maritime lovers united to mark a beloved Royal Navy tradition.
Dozens of people gathered on HMS Victory to slurp down a shot of rum to mark the 48thÂ anniversary of Black Tot Day.
It was the latest toast to be staged in Portsmouth to commemorateÂ the last official rum ration issued to sailors way back on July 31, 1970 '“Â the poignantÂ end of a 300-year tradition.
And in true spirit of the day, all those joining the celebration were able to take a '˜tot' from a new rum being launched specifically to help fund the restoration of HMS Victory.
Known as HMS Victory Navy Strength Rum, the new booze came packing a kick and is produced by theÂ The Isle of Wight Distillery.
Xavier Baker, co-founder of the distillery, said it was an honour to launch the new rum on a day so steeped in naval history.
The launch comes off the back of the HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin, which was launched in 2015.
He said: '˜We'reÂ hugely proud to further our relationship with the National Museum of the Royal Navy following on from the success of the HMS Victory gin.
'˜We have worked with the National Museum of the Royal Navy to try and recreate the true style of rum that was used back in the day.
'˜So it's a blend fromÂ Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica. It's a rich blend ofÂ Â aged demerara rum. And at 57 per cent, it's gunpowder-proof, so if your gunpowder did get wet, this rum would still ignite.
'˜We wanted to bring a bit of naval history back to life. So it's a huge privilegeÂ to launch it on Black Tot Day.'
Rum rations were introduced into the navy in 1655 as a substitute for beer, it was in general use by 1731.
Sailors would get one eighth of a pint of rum, watered down with two measures of water. Retired chief engineer Frank Fowler celebrated the day and said: '˜It was definitely a sad day when we lost the tot but it had to happen, the way the navy was moving forward technologically.
'˜You were having guysÂ in charge of millions of pounds worth of machinery, weapons systems and reactors '“Â if you sat on the mess and got three of those down you it opens up no ends of thoughts of what could goÂ wrong.'
Pat Arnold, from Bridgend in Wales, was withÂ grandchildren Alfie, 10, and Tia, nine. She enjoyed a small tot and said: '˜It was lovely to be a part of the tradition.'