Many of us, especially in the UK, have been longing for a decent Guyanese 151 rum to use in all those Zombie recipes (and not only) that ask for a “Overproof Demerara” or “151 Demerara” component – yes, the Zombie isn’t made with 3 different types of spiced rum, pineapple juice and a Wray float, sorry! The only other recent 151 on the market was just the Goslings 151 which isn’t remotely close to the profile needed to stand out in drinks that require overproof Guyanese rum.
Now the new Pusser’s Select Aged 151 might be the answer! The name comes from “purser”, the person that was responsible for distributing the rum rations on the Royal Navy ships. Their marketing, and, according to them, recipes are strongly related to the Royal Navy and the rum they used to serve on their ships. While the rum ration was abolished on the 31st of July 1970 (Black Tot Day), a man named Charles Tobias managed to get the rights and recipe from the Admiralty in 1979 and started selling the Pusser’s brand in 1980. Worth mentioning that a part of their profit goes to the Royal Navy Sailor’s Fund – or the Tot Fund.
Their Pusser’s Gunpowder proof is supposed to be the closest to the most recent blend that was given to the sailors until the Black Tot Day, but given they changed the recipe of the rum a few times I’m taking that bit of marketing with a pinch of salt. That being said, their range is definitely inspired by the Navy Style rums, the profile is definitely there.
Pusser’s 151 was launched in the UK very recently, it’s made at Diamond Distillery in Guyana and the feedback so far was that it isn’t as full bodied as expected compared to other 151 Demerara rums. I’ll do a slight comparison with the Inner Circle Black Dot and the little I have left from a Hamilton 151 sample as they are the closest in style and ABV and see how it competes with them.
Pusser’s 151 is molasses based, with distillate from the infamous Port Mourant Wooden Pot still and most likely some column distillate as well. Aged for 3 years in ex-Bourbon casks and bottled in the British Virgin Islands at 75.5% ABV – unsure about adulterating, but it’s fair to assume at least a decent amount of caramel colouring is present.
On the nose there is that classic Pusser’s/Wood’s profile. Liquorice galore, methane, mandarins, chocolate sauce and rich tobacco. Ground coffee, allspice, burnt pencil shavings and of course caramel. The aroma isn’t as much as in my face as I was expecting. Blackcurrant cordial, raisins, ginger beer, nutmeg, ground black pepper, new leather and dusty cardboard.
On the palate it’s quite easy going for the ABV, but it definitely has a bite. Intense caramel & molasses, dark chocolate, black coffee and English Breakfast Tea with milk. Strawberry jam, liquorice and burnt, smoky wood staves. Raisins with black pepper and a pinch of salt. Leather, cayenne pepper and cacao nibs. Has a pretty standard Navy Style profile. Some mango and Luxardo cherries. The finish is long and warm with dark chocolate, liquorice and hot spice.
Compared to the Inner Circle Black Dot the Pusser’s lacks some layers, although the Black Dot is more on the fruity/acidic side whereas Pusser’s is more on the dark/creamy one. I like the body of the Black Dot, but I enjoy the dark chocolate finish on the Pusser’s more.
Compared to the Hamilton 151 I feel like the Pusser’s has more heat, while the Hamilton is more balanced/integrated – might be due to my sample being quite old, but it’s easier to drink. I do prefer the spiciness of the Pusser’s though.
While working on this review I managed to get my hands on a Lemon Hart 151 sample too so I could do a side by side with this one as well. The LH 151 seems to be darker with more intense burnt sugar notes whereas the Pusser’s is more liquorice forward and rounded. On its own I prefer the Pusser’s but I think the LH would stand out in a drink more due to its more robust profile.
There is also a Diamond Reserve 151 Demerara on the way to the UK soon as well, which is meant to be used in the same way as Lemon Hart 151 or Hamilton 151 – looking forward to check that one out and see how it compares with this Pusser’s.
Overall conclusion is that I do like this, it isn’t overly complex, but I am pretty sure it would deliver in a cocktail (will give it a run soon). I prefer the Inner Circle over the Pusser’s for the complexity, but I think the Pusser’s is slightly better than the Hamilton in terms of intensity. It retails at various prices, from £48 on The Whisky Exchange (where I got mine from) to €33 with German retailers, but I’ll score it using the TWE price.
Pusser’s Select Aged 151 score:
Value for money: 14/15