50 years of Black Tot Day, 24 hours of rum madness

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31 July is Black Tot Day, a special day for rum lovers. This year is even more special than usual – it’s fifty years since the first one. To celebrate, there’s some extra-special rum shenanigans going on. Here’s Mitch Wilson, Black Tot Rum ambassador, to explain what ridiculousness he and The Whisky Exchange’s head buyer Dawn Davies will be getting up to…

Recently there have been rumblings, heard even from up high in whisky’s ivory tower. An old spirit, long thought to be cast to the bargain baskets of the spirits world, has come of age and is stealing away those of us yearning to throw down our waistcoats and monocles in exchange for tropical shirts, sunshine, and the unpretentious allure of a Caribbean coastline.

Yes, rum is making its stand.

You may have noticed that overly cheerful rum producers have been slowly infiltrating spirits fairs and tastings dedicated to whisky, with the sole intent of tempting away the faithful – and it’s working. Even The Whisky Exchange has succumbed to the charm of the Caribbean, and head buyer Dawn Davies will be helping me host the world’s first ever 24-hour online rum tasting on 31 July 2020!

Why has TWE allowed such treachery? Does this Ragnarök-themed year threaten the very fabric of the whisky world? Is this spirited augury the harbinger of the long-awaited ‘Rum Exchange’?

Well, no.

It’s Black Tot Day!

Have no fear, whisky lovers! The Whisky Exchange will still be here to look after all of your whisky needs. However, this year is the 50th anniversary of Black Tot Day – a day of mournful celebration that commemorates the final rum rations served on the ships of Her Majesty’s navy on 31 July 1970. Every year, rum lovers around the world pour themselves a generous ‘tot’ of rum and call ‘Up Spirits!’ to the loss of the Navy’s historic rum blend, created over generations using rums from around the world.

Sugarcane & Champagne

Sugarcane & Champagne – Mitch Wilson and Dawn Davies

For this historic occasion, Mistress of Wine Dawn Davies has temporarily cast aside her dignity to team up with me, Mitch Wilson (global ambassador for Black Tot Rum) to host some of the greatest rum makers from around the world for a non-stop live 24-hour broadcast! Under the moniker of Sugarcane & Champagne, this unlikely pairing of booze fanatics will be navigating rum’s treacherous waters to deliver you an unmissable day of drinking, education, and dare we say it, ‘fun’.

The Speakers

The line-up of speakers is impressive by any standard. Join:

John Hume (ex-Royal Navy)
Miguel Smith (Mount Gay)
Daniyel Jones (Angostura)
Benjamin Boothe (Tamosi)
Christelle Harris (Hampden)
Luca Gargano (Velier)
Carsten Vlierboom (E&A Scheer)
Trudiann Branker (Mount Gay)
Florent Beuchet (Compagnie Des Indes)
Joshua Singh (Single Barrel Select.)
Peter Holland (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
Daniele Biondi (La Maison & Velier)
Alexander Gabriel (Plantation Rum)
Don Benn (West Indies Rum Distillery)
Shaun Caleb (Demerara Distillers Ltd)
Matt Pietrek (CocktailWonk.com)
Frank Ward (ex-Mount Gay & WIRSPA)
Zan Kong (Worthy Park)
George Frost (The Duppy Share)
Maggie Campbell (Privateer)
Margaret Monplaisir (St Lucia Distillers and Chairman’s Reserve)
Sly Augustin (Trailer Happiness, London)
Joy Spence (Appleton Estate)
Paul McFadyen (Plantation Rum)
Gergö Muráth (Trailer Happiness, London)
Jessica Yến Manzey (Rumtender extraordinaire)
Chockie Tom (Doom Tiki, NYC)
Austin Hartman (Paradise Lounge, NYC)
Jen Akin (Rumba, Seattle)
Steve Magarry (Beenleigh)
Tom Bulmer (Rum Club Australia)
Sukhinder Singh (The Whisky Exchange)
Oliver Chilton (Elixir Distillers and Black Tot)

Even writer Dave Broom is deserting whisky and pouring himself rum for the day!!

Join us live and taste along with the madness

You can join in the event for free from 10am on 31 July 2020 by tuning into The Whisky Exchange Facebook page.

Black Tot Day

Don’t miss the commemorative toast at 11am to mark the exact moment 50 years prior when the Royal Navy took their last tot of rum. It’s being lead by John Hume, a former ‘Jack Dusty’ in the Royal Navy, responsible for giving out the rum ration from 1961 until its end in 1970.

We then challenge you to stay up for the entire 24 hours with Sugarcane & Champagne, as they introduce you to the wonderful world of rum and the people that make it happen.

If you’d like to taste along with us for the day, we have tasting sets specially designed to go alongside some of the sessions. You can find them all on Black Tot 50th Anniversary Page and in the list below.

The Schedule

Looking to plan out your day and set calendar reminders for your favourite sessions? Here’s what’s going on for the whole 24 hours!

Friday 31 July 2020

Welcome to Black Tot 24 Hours
with your hosts, Dawn Davies (The Whisky Exchange) and Mitch Wilson (Black Tot Rum)

Up Spirits! Celebrating 50 Years of Black Tot Day
with Sukhinder Singh (The Whisky Exchange), Oliver Chilton (Elixir Distillers) and John Hume (former Royal Navy)
We will be raising a toast in the session to the last tot at 11:00am!

The Pillars of Navy Rum
with Global Rum Ambassadors – Miguel Smith (Mount Gay), Christelle Harris (Hampden Estate), Daniyel Jones (Angostura) and Benjamin Booth (Tamosi)
Get the tasting set >

Tropical vs Continentaly Ageing
with Luca Gargano (Velier) and Carsten Vlierboom (E&A Scheer)
Get the tasting set >

Barbados: The Roots of Rum
with Trudiann Branker (Mount Gay)
Get the tasting set >

(In)dependent Bottlers – The Evolution of Dock Rums
with Daniele Biondi (La Maison & Velier), Joshua Singh (SBS), Peter Holland (That Boutique-y Rum Company) and Florent Beuchet (Compagnie des Indes)
Get the tasting set >

Barrels at Sea: The Dynamic Ageing Experiment
with Don Benn (West indies Rum Distillery) and Alexandre Gabriel (Plantation Rum)

Guyana: The Heart of the Tot
with Shaun Caleb (Demerara Distillers Limited)

The Rum Archives
with Dave Broom (Author, Rum: The Manual), Matt Pietrek (CocktailWonk), & Frank Ward (former Mount Gay & WIRSPA)

Jamaica and the Dundercats
with Zan Kong (Worthy Park), Christelle Harris (Hampden) and George Frost (Duppy’s Share)
Get the tasting set >

Saturday 1 August

Rum: Challenging the New Frontiers
with Joy Spence (Appleton), Margaret Monplaisir (St Lucia Distillers), Maggie Campbell (Privateer) and Sly Augustin (Trailer Happiness)

From Ship to Shore: Rum and Cocktail Culture
with Jessica Yến Manzey, Paul McFadyen (Plantation Rum) and Gergő Muráth (Worthy Park)

The American Rum Renaissance
with Maggie Campbell (Privateer)

East Coast vs West Coast: Rum Bar Throwdown
with Jen Akin (Rumba, Seattle), Chockie Tom (Doom Tiki, NYC), Austin Hartman (Paradise Lounge, NYC) and Gergő Muráth (Trailer Happiness, London)

The Rum Rebellion: The History of Australian Rum
with Steve Magarry (Beenleigh)

Recreating the Navy Blend
with Oliver Chilton (Elixir Distillers)
Get the tasting set >

The Last Toast: A Tribute to Rum Clubs around the World
with Jim Wrigley (Bartending legend) and rum fans from around the world

The Tall Ships Toast


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