We might know that the phrase ‘splice the mainbrace’ is a naval tradition to make a toast to her Majesty the Queen, “To the Queen – God bless her” , but to what did it originally refer?
On square-rigged sailing ships the mainbrace secured the main mast and played a pivotal role in maintaining the ship’s stability, which is why it was a target for enemy gunners during sea battles. Any damage to this piece of rigging needed to be repaired as rapidly, but as accurately, as possible.
The order to ‘splice the mainbrace’ was one of the most difficult emergency repair jobs, which involved unravelling the mainbrace and weaving in a new piece of rope. Under battle conditions this was a dangerous job, but without the mainbrace the ship couldn’t change course and would quickly become a ‘sitting duck’.
On completion of the task, it was customary for the men to be rewarded with an extra ration of rum; later, splice the mainbrance’ became a euphemism for an authorised celebratory drink and went on to become an order to grant the crew an extra ration of rum.
An extra ration of rum was what kept springing to my mind as I sampled the ultra-smooth Mainbrace Rum, which I was recently sent to review.
Mainbrace Rum was the first company to “splice” rum from Guyana and Martinique, blending rum from Guyana, near the banks of the Demerara River, and a French Agricole from Martinique. According to the producers, it is the only rum in the world to blend these two styles of rum to produce a unique taste.
The idea for Mainbrace Rum began at The Ferry Boat Inn, in Helford Passage, Cornwall, where the Haigh family decided to make a drink that reminds people to celebrate the small moments with friends and family.
They agreed on making a rum that could be enjoyed both as a sipping rum or in a cocktail and enlisted the help of Liam Jones, who was the bar manager at the Ferryboat Inn at the time. They set about canvassing mixologists and rum fanatics in London and Cornwall to help create a unique flavour profile that was missing from the market.
The result is a stunningly smooth rum that should be enjoyed on its own or over ice; it doesn’t need the distraction of a mixer and, although I haven’t tried a Mainbrace Rum-based cocktail, I think this is a rum that is far too good to be diluted or otherwise polluted.
I won’t try to give you my sense of what flavours are perceived or what hints emerge, but I can say that every sip was one that I savoured.
I can’t wait for the next excuse to splice the Mainbrace Rum.