A CRAFT rum distiller is celebrating the 475th anniversary of the Royal Navy by creating a special rum and contributing a percentage of its proceeds to charity.

Island Slice is run by Sylvester Herman, a Caribbean-born rum expert, who runs his businesses out of a distillery based in Dumbarton.

Sylvester was born on the island of St Lucia, but moved to New York at the age of 19 and enlisted in the US Department of Defence after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

In 2007, he joined the British Army as an infantryman before moving to Scotland seven years later to be closer to his Scottish partner.

Sylvester told the Reporter: “Throughout my journey I always shared my rum with the many people I met, all of which requested I make it for family events and functions.

“So Rum was the ideal place to start a post-military life, however that did not hit home until my father passed away at the end of 2015.

“It was a difficult time, however I was helped through by my military comrades and family.

“The only thing to do at that point was to let the world discover a rum with a difference - the rum created by my father.

“In doing so, something he would love to see happened.”

Island Slice was set up in 2015 as one of the first registered rum brands in Scotland.

“We produced a range of rum products,” Sylvester continued, “all to a recipe passed down through the generations, which can be traced back from the abolishment of slavery in the Caribbean.

“The plan is to help other veterans. The decision was made to launch limited quantities of certain rums, one for each branch of the military, and what better way of starting off but with the Royal Navy?

“They are associated with rum and the oldest service and it just so happened to be their 475th anniversary in 2021. This edition should be available before spring 2021.

“I am aware since leaving the military that a number of my colleagues have attempted or committed suicide and it’s a sad reality, that’s just those I have served directly with.

“However The rate of decline of mental health within veterans was on the rise even before the pandemic. I have lost more friends after my deployment to Afghanistan than during.

A great percentage of veterans help comes via charities and non government bodies however these charities are stretched given the most recent influx of veterans due to the latest redundancy/ cuts by the military. And a high amount of veterans for various reasons and circumstances get zero support.

“We at “Island Slice will do whatever we can to help charities hence the reason behind the limited edition bottles. A percentage of the profit from the sale of each bottle will go to an associated charity of the branch of service.”

Proceeds will be distributed to The White Ensign Association, a charity that provides personal help and advice for all serving and former members of the Royal Navy, and The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust.

The special edition Navy rum is expected to be available before spring 2021.

For more than 100 years Royal Navy sailors were given a daily ‘tot’ of rum to ward off scurvy, but the practice was abolished in 1970 amid concerns that regular intakes of alcohol would lead to unsteady hands when working machinery.