Sailor Jerry spiced rum

Difford's Guide

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Product Information

Closure: Screw / Stelvin cap

More about Sailor Jerry

Produced by: William Grant & Sons Irish Brands Ltd
UK distribution by: William Grant & Sons UK Ltd
UK consumer PR by: House PR
UK trade PR by: Touch PR
product image

alc./vol: 41%

Proof: 82°

Vintage: Non-vintage

Aged: No age statement

Product of: Product of Ireland (Eire) Ireland (Eire)

This blended rum based spirit flavoured with vanilla, lime and five spices is claimed to be based on an original recipe by the famous tattoo artist Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins who died in 1973. The bottle is decorated with Collin’s tattoos.
Norman Collins was born 1911 in Ukiah, California and by all accounts was something of a teenage bum until he met Tatt’s Thomas, a famous Chicago tattoo artist, who trained him and set him up with his first tattoo machine. At the age of nineteen, Collins joined the U.S. Navy, which took him to Southeast Asia where he was inspired by the local artwork. After an honourable discharge in the late 1920s he moved to Honolulu and opened his first tattoo shop with a partner, ‘Painless Tom’. Here he perfected his boldly lined, vibrant coloured style incorporating Asian design elements, which became popular with passing sailors.

In March 2010, a new Sailor Jerry label and new liquid was launched in the UK market. This was followed with yet another new, cleaner label in September 2014 but the liquid was not further changed.

Review and Tasting

Sampled on 03/01/2011


Clear, amber.


The old Sailor Jerry (the one UK readers were used to) had a fairly sweet palate with vanilla, clove, gingerbread, palma violet, lavender, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange blossom honey. The new Sailor Jerry (the version that has been selling Stateside) is much darker in colour (dark amber) with a nose reminiscent of newly tanned leather, stewed fruit (currents), Christmas spice, vanilla (though much toned down) and the merest hint of ammonia.


The ‘new’ palate is much drier with young sappy woody and green pepper notes rising over the familiar gingerbread, vanilla and plump dried fruit.


Sailor Jerry has gotten more serious. Norman has grown up, but will drinkers in the UK approve of the change? I actually appreciate both, the old version is easier but the new version is more justified in its ‘rum’ label.

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