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The Black Seal

Rum, that ever present preferred drink of Sailors everywhere. And I was (and am) one of those Sailors.

Rum, that ever present preferred drink of Sailors everywhere. And I was (and am) one of those Sailors. And one rum in particular has been a staple of Sailors, particular VP maritime patrol sailors for decades. This one..

Here’s a bit about the famous rum: The history of Gosling’s Rum, Bermuda’s best selling spirit (and required ingredient in its national drink, the Dark ‘n Stormy), begins, of course, with a bit of a happy accident. James Gosling was looking to expand his London liquor store to the new world in Virginia, says Malcolm Gosling, James’ great-grandson and current CEO of Goslings. He chartered a boat and loaded it with £10,000 of wines and spirits. After sitting for more than 96 days in calm seas, however, his charter ran out, and James Goslings was unceremoniously dumped off in the only port between London and Virginia: Bermuda.

So he got a licence to sell on Dec. 3, 1806, and soon after opened his shop. It was not until 1850 that Bermuda’s national rum was truly born, however. After experimenting with various blends of different distillates, Gosling and company came up with a blend they preferred. In order to purchase the rum at the time, one had to bring one’s own bottle (it remained that way until World War I) and fill it straight from the barrel. But as tourism developed on the island, and the rum grew in popularity, people increasingly wanted to take the rum back with them abroad. So the shop looked for the strongest bottle it could find — recycled champagne bottles. The Goslings would go down to the British naval base in the dockyard, sell the sailors champagne from the shop, and return by horse and buggy to pick up the empty bottles and rinse them out. They would fill them with what was dubbed “Old Rum,” put a cork on top and cover it with black sealing wax. As the bottles sat on their shelves, customers would point to the black topped champagne bottles and say, “give me the one with the black seal.” Rum Journal.

I got my first taste in the famous Dark and Stormy drink on a deployment to Puerto Rico. Our squadron was based in New Orleans, LA and was pretty wild at the time, we carried the spirit of Mardi Gras with us everywhere we went.  We had an end of deployment picnic at the SeaBee camp on the base in Roosey Roads, PR and it was a hootenanny for sure.

I had my share of volleyball, hot dogs and Dark and Stormys. So much so, that the picnic culminated with me hugging our Commanding Officer, kissing him on the cheek and slapping his ass, then proceeding to declare myself king of Puerto Rico. 

Or so I was told the next day after I woke up in my bed, safe and sound, put there after being taken back to the barracks and put there by my Shipmates that had looked out for a silly drunk.

Just as I had done for them before.  That’s the real point of this ‘no shit’ sea story. We had each other’s backs, we partied hard, but we worked hard and we were a family and we took care of each other. 

Hard to find these days.

Lead From the Front.

Semper Fortis

Chief Chuck

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