In the spring of 1806 James Gosling, the oldest son of William Gosling, wines and spirits merchant, set out from Gravesend, Kent, England on the ship Mercury, with £10,000 sterling worth of merchandise, bound for America.
After ninety-one desperate days on becalmed seas their charter ran out, and they put in at the nearest port, St. George’s, Bermuda. And the rest, as they say, is history. Delicious, deep, dark history.
The firm, known as Gosling and Son, was renamed Gosling Brothers. Three years later the first oak barrels of rum distillate arrived in Bermuda. After much experimentation in the blending process, the distinctive black rum destined to be Black Seal was formulated and offered for sale.
They didn’t call it Black Seal at first, in fact up until the First World War it was sold from the barrel, and folks brought in bottles for a fill up of “Old Rum”, so called because of its distinctive smoothness.
Eventually the black rum was sold in champagne bottles, reclaimed from the British Officer’s Mess, and the corks sealed with black sealing wax. Pretty soon people began to ask for the “Black Seal”. Many years later a play on words and images gave birth to the little, barrel juggling “Black Seal”.
To commemorate our bicentennial year, we honored local centenarians with an ad campaign featuring Bermudians who have also reached an important milestone: 100 years. Like most Gosling projects, this one was a family affair. Nancy Gosling, President and CEO of Gosling Brothers Limited explains: “We are very proud of reaching 200 years as a family business in Bermuda, and it is imperative that we recognize all those who have helped to make that possible.”
The ads include a brief bio of the individual, their secret for longevity and favorite spot on Bermuda. It sums up by saying, “For 200 years now, this most special island has been our home. We want to thank all of you–young and old–for making it possible. Yes, we’ve seen a lot of changes here, but we’ve seen a lot of preservation, too. Because when you have something unique, something remarkable, why mess with it? That’s been our philosophy for seven stubborn generations.”