PICTURE GALLERY: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard rum festival

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CONNOISSEURS, families and even pirates packed into Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for the annual Rum Festival.

Captain H Jacks's band of pirates at Portsmouth Rum festival  Picture: Vernon Nash PPP-170309-100016006

Captain H Jacks's band of pirates at Portsmouth Rum festival Picture: Vernon Nash PPP-170309-100016006

A wide variety of rums was on offer at the festival, ranging from well-known classics to new and exciting favourites.

With live music from Greg Russell, Ciaran Algar and local band Electric Eden playing throughout the evening, people gathered to sample rums of different styles, tastes and ages.

One of the rum companies at the event was Wester, a Scottish company celebrating their first batch of rum – with the stall manned by Alan Neirn and Xander McGregor.

Xander said: ‘Coming to Portsmouth for our very first rum festival, with our very first batch of rum, is something that is incredibly special to us.

Barman Damaine Hinds serves Stephen and Ginny Royal

Barman Damaine Hinds serves Stephen and Ginny Royal

‘With the incredible ties this place has to the navy – and their infamous love of rum – this feels like the perfect place to be.’

One man who knows the connection between rum and the Royal Navy is Gordon Luke, who served in the navy for 22 years, reaching the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Mr Luke said: ‘In Nelson’s time, the sailors used to have half a pint of rum in the morning, and half in the evening.

‘Trouble is, they would become incredibly unruly, so Admiral Vernon stopped it. They started mixing lime and water with it so that the sailors would actually do their work.

Buck Taylor and Neil Challis. Both friends served on HMS Illustrious and get together in Portsmouth

Buck Taylor and Neil Challis. Both friends served on HMS Illustrious and get together in Portsmouth

‘I wouldn’t say I am a rum aficionado, but given how important a role it played in the navy – and to an extent still does – it has certainly played a major role in my life.

‘If you have it in moderation, you’re doing fine.’

Many people travelled from far and wide to attend the Rum Festival, including Jenny Bargrove, who travelled down from Buckinghamshire.

She said: ‘It has been a lovely evening. The Pussers stall was great, and quite a strong rum to start off with.

‘If I drink it is usually wine, so I am a little out of my comfort zone this evening, but it has been great fun nonetheless.’

Her husband Mark said: ‘I like the occasional rum and this evening has been fantastic – it is nice to see everyone here together enjoying themselves.’