Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Rum & Gin Festival

Following the success of 2017’s inaugural Rum Festival, the festival has returned to the dockyard — now with added gin.

The ironclad HMS Warrior is the ideal location to celebrate these spirits of the sea, with rum being a staple ration for the Royal Navy right up until 31st July 1970, known as Black Tot Day.

HMS Warrior at sunset
Rum & Gin bottles. Historic Dockyard Rum & Gin Festival
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Rum & Gin Festival

Gin was also an important part of a seaman’s diet, with citrus juices added to the spirit to help prevent the dreaded scurvy. 

The event, held across two decks of the ship, was a chance to check-out a of ranges of drinks, many of which are distilled in in the local area.

At the sold-out event, ticket-holders were treated to samples of the various spirits. Exhibitors included the Winchester Distillery with their Navy Strength Gunpowder Gin and Twisted Nose, created with Hampshire watercress, as well as The Isle of Wight Distillery with their famous Mermaid Gin, Victory Gin and Rum. 

For the brave there was the opportunity to try the 66.6% proof Over Hoof hailing from the Cloven Hoof distillery in nearby West Sussex.

And one familiar name that was showcasing at the festival was Pussers Rum. The distillery was founded following the end of rum rations in a bid to protect the recipe of the Royal Navy’s historic tipple. The samples they had on offer included their Original Admiralty, Spiced and Gunpowder Proof rums for people to test. 

One of the great things about the event was the chance to speak to experts from the distilleries. With vendors such as William Grant’s, providing an in-depth explanation of the drinks and their backgrounds, people were able to discover how the process of distilling rum is dependent on its origin country, with French, Spanish and British rums all having their own signature process. Alternatively there were explanations about how gin can be flavoured with various botanicals – some of the ingredients mentioned included peppercorns, coriander and cinnamon. 

With live music on the Main Gun Deck and a well-stocked bar inside, outside on the jetty guests were treated to cocktails from the Rum Club’s Rum Shack. Slinging Rum Punches and Mojito Royales, making it the ideal place to sit down and gaze over the harbour at sunset whilst testing the spirits in action. 

To find out more about HMS Warrior and Navy life then visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. https://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/tickets-and-offers


Words: Danielle Jones
Pictures: Danielle Jones