A Pirate’s Life examines the drinking habits of history’s most infamous pirates and imagines what kind of rum they’d enjoy if they were alive in the present day. Some people choose the pirate life, while others have it thrust upon them and for Mary Read it was all about necessity.
Known for her affiliation with Calico Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny, Read was press ganged into Rackham’s crew after her ship was captured. She made the most of the situation and fully embraced her new life, becoming one of the most famous pirates of all-time.
Let’s take a look at the bottles that Read would have in her collection.
Read grew up in Devon County in England, so it’d made sense that she’d have a bottle from the area that reminded her of simpler times. She’d definitely have a bottle of Morvenna Spiced on the shelf, a herbaceous, fruity rum produced by the Cornish Distillery in Bude, North Cornwall.
Bottled at 40%, Morvenna has notes of lemongrass, apricot, saffron and vanilla and is fermented and distilled from scratch on-site. Read would pour herself a glass when she was feeling nostalgic and to remind herself of how far she’d come from a girl who started work as a foot-boy and adapted to become one of the most influential pirates of her time.
Wray & Nephew White Overproof
Read spent a lot of her time sailing across the Caribbean and along the way she’d have been exposed to the characteristic flavours of powerful Jaimaican rum. Never one to shy away from the strong stuff, Read would likely have a bottle of Wray & Nephew White Overproof on hand for when she wanted to blow her head off or celebrate a victory.
Bottled at 63%, the white overproof carries all the best qualities of high-strength Jamaican rum. It’s the lifeblood of the island distilled into liquid form, perfect for sharing with company. That’s exactly what Read would do, pouring glasses for her crew mates and toasting with Anne Bonny.
Read’s appreciation for Jamaican rum means she’d also have a bottle of Dunderhead in her collection. This funky drink is a blend of Caribbean rums that have been spiked with a dominant Jamaican varietal. The result is a rum with tropic notes of pineapple, overripe banana and rotten oranges.
Dunderhead takes its name from the fermentation leftovers after distillation that’s thrown into dunder pits and used to add complexity to fresh molasses. This process creates some extremely funky flavours that would definitely appeal to Read’s palate.
Calico’s Crew Anne Bonny’s Favourite
The relationship between Mary Read and Anne Bonny is the stuff of legend, with the two of them fighting side by side until the end of their lives. It goes without saying Read would own a bottle that honours her lover.
Anne Bonny’s Favourite is crafted from 8-year old Panamanian rums and has sweet flavours of apricot, strawberry and caramel. There’s an underlying softness in the texture, completed by a perfumed aroma. A lot going on beneath the surface.
Calico’s Crew Mary Read’s Choice
Read was well-known for her wild temper and feisty attitude and if she was ever going to drink a rum that was inspired by her, it would embody those qualities.
Mary Read’s Choice is a blend of 12-year old rums from across the Caribbean and has a distinctive spicy flavour that hits the mouth like a punch from Mary herself. This is balanced by notes of honey, toffee and vanilla to create a rum that’s as complex as its namesake.
If you liked reading this edition of A Pirate’s Life, be sure to read about Anne Bonny’s rum preferences as well!