image source: thedrinkingcup.net
Of all the financial firms which participated on the trading floors, none has more interesting origins than E.D.&F Man as it served as official rum merchants to the Royal Navy for almost 200 years. The group was founded in 1783 by barrel maker James Man and continued as the official supplier of rum to Limey sailors from 1784 until Black Tot Day in 1970.
Considering how strict modern military forces are, it's quite inconceivable now that rum rations were provided twice daily on normal days and according to one source, double servings were allotted before battle and of course after victory in the Royal Navy. To certify that the rum was of sufficient alcohol strength and not diluted, sailors could give the rum a gunpowder test which would prove if it was above 57% alcohol since it wouldn't burn otherwise. The 3 minute video below provides an example of alcohol proofing and make sure you think of these sailors next time you look at a bottle of booze and read it's proof:
Almost a decade after the Royal Navy discontinued rum rations, an entrepreneur contacted E.D&F. Man to obtain the recipe and blending information so he could recreate the rum according to Admiralty specifications. In 1980, Pusser's rum was first sold to the public and remains relatively available, I picked up a bottle at Bevmo today and have sipped on it while writing this post.
I also clear my trades through ED&F Man and can say they're a great operation to work with.