The naval tradition of consuming alcohol at sea has a long history. In the beginning, this attempt to reduce some of the boredom of shipboard duty was a public-health measure. Potable water stowed on board a ship at sea for any length of time became stagnant, with algae blooming within the storage casks, so mariners quenched their thirst with beer. Its alcoholic content and hops helped control the growth of microorganisms, and a daily allowance of beer helped take sailors’ minds off shipboard difficulties. In more southerly latitudes, however, beer would spoil before the vessel reached her destination. Officers often sailed with a stash of whiskey, and it was noted that this spirit, with a higher alcoholic content, did not have a spoilage problem.
Rum: The Spirit of the Sea
For more than 300 years the shrill sound of a bosun’s pipe and a shout of ‘up spirits’ would be heard on board Royal Navy ships, and sailors lined up for their daily ration of rum or grog.
By Louis Arthur Norton <p>