The Original Sailor Jerry Spiced Caribbean Rum

Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum Review CaribbeanFor those in the UK please don’t let the title confuse you.  This is NOT the “Original” Sailor Jerry rum which was so radically altered back in 2010.  This is a recent bottling of the “newer” recipe.  For those outside the UK, Sailor Jerry has always been more in keeping with this formula.  In the US the rum is bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV).  In the UK it is bottled at 80 proof (40% ABV).  It is also marketed as a Navy rum in the US.  To be honest a lot of the information relating to Sailor Jerry is a bit confusing and contradictory.  If you can clarify any of the information please feel free to comment below this review.  The title of my review, as always is based on how the rum is described on its/my bottle.

Norman Keith Collins (January 14, 1911 – June 12, 1973) was a prominent American tattoo artist, famous for his tattooing of sailors; he was also known as “Sailor Jerry”.  Collins also served time in the US navy.  Collins’ legacy in particular his artwork was left with two young artists Ed Hardy (who is arguably more famous that Collins now) and Mike Malone.  The rum was introduced as a homage to Collins’ love of rum.  The Sailor Jerry Company have a clothing line and other product lines which showcase his distinctive tattooing style.

When the Sailor Jerry rum was reformulated in 2010 the rum was also relabelled.  Sailor Jerry now has a much smaller branding on the front of the label with the ukulele playing hula girl taking a more prominent role in the presentation.  The rear of the bottle has a picture of Collins and a brief background of his legacy.  For more information try or Old Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

Sailor Jerry is widely available in the UK marketplace.  It is stocked by most major supermarkets and smaller off licenses.  It is also quite popular in city centre bars. Part of the re-branding and re-formulation by First Drinks Ltd in 2010 was to take away some of the mass market feel associated with the rum.  To try and make the rum more authentic, more Sailor Jerry than Captain Morgan.  I’m not really sure if the re-branding was really necessary to be honest.  Many people who enjoy more premium rum’s probably wouldn’t dream of trying a cheap spiced mixer anyway.

Having said that the presentation of this rum is quite good.  It uses imagery from Collins’ tattoo’s and the label does have an oldie world feel to it.  Its simple and uncluttered.  Previously the rum gave an indication of its taste (blended with Lime and Vanilla), that is now more mysterious as it just states it is blended with natural spices.  Again the labelling seems to vary worldwide.  The bottle I’m testing is for the UK market.    Again if you see anything different in different territories feel free to leave some comments/pictures.

The bottle, on first appearance is just a standard bar bottle like most other cheaper offerings.  However, on closer inspection the bottle has a slightly more rounded neck and is slightly heavier.  The closure, which I presumed was a metallic screw top is actually a synthetic fake cork with a plastic topper.  This is quite unusual in the Spiced Rum market.  Even Foursquare Spiced Rum comes with a metallic screw top (once you’ve gotten the wax seal off!).  I guess people think Spiced Rum drinkers just guzzle their rum down in litre flagons mixed with cola or ginger beer.

The Spiced Spirit in the bottle is an inviting dark golden brown.  This remains when poured in the glass.  As expected with a spiced rum, it is very fragrant.  The cork gives a satisfying pop and gives way to a vanilla explosion.  The rum smells very sweet, caramel and brown sugar dark rich molasses tones.  Its similar in some ways to a Navy Style rum or a lighter blended Caribbean rum.

Now I have a confession to make.  Back in the heady days of 2009 I was first introduced to Sailor Jerry (or Scary Jerry’s as one of my drinking pals christened a Sailor Jerry and coke after forgetting his way home after a few too many of these) but I have never ever until now bought a bottle.  Probably the main reason behind this is that Diageo so aggressively marketed their own Morgan’s Spiced that every bottle of Spiced Rum I ever seemed to get was that.  Sailor Jerry’s has usually always been that little bit more expensive as well.  I’m not tight I just like a bargain!  To be honest I drank so much Morgans Spiced that I pretty much sickened myself of Spiced Rum for a long, long time.

It is mainly for the purpose of this blog that I have finally bought a bottle of Sailor Jerry.  It is available as mentioned earlier, in most UK supermarkets and Off Licenses.  It is usually around the £20 mark for a 70cl bottle.  It competes with Morgans Spiced, Bacardi Oakheart and The Kraken.  I managed to get a bottle in Sainsburys for £16 (their rum’s are frequently discounted).

On with the tasting.  It is some years since I had Sailor Jerry.  It does smell quite similar to Morgans Spiced, fortunately not quite as cloyingly sickly sweet.  There are aroma’s in the profile other than vanilla for a start. A little oak and tobacco which suggests the rum in the blend has been aged to some extent.  The reverse of the label advises that the rum can be mixed with any mixer or enjoyed over ice.  It states it is spiced and smooth.  I’ve heard this before…………

As a sipping rum (on its own no ice) it is certainly not my idea of smooth.  In the mouth it burns like a fairly young mixing rum. Rough around the edges and quite harsh.  Unusually, it has a lot of oak and tobacco tones.  It is initially very sweet on the tip of the tongue but it soon becomes very bitter.  At 40% it is quite strong for a spiced rum and the finish is very hot with a lot of alcohol burn.  When a cube of ice is added (okay I’ve added 3 and another good slug of the rum) it does certainly mellow out the bitterness, reduces the alcohol burn and bitter aftertaste considerably.  Like this, the rum could be sipped.  It wouldn’t be the most complex or rewarding of sipping experiences though.  It’s pretty flat to be honest.  There isn’t a great deal of flavour coming through this way.

Mixed with cola (how I have always previously enjoyed Sailor Jerry) it is preferable to Morgans Spiced.  It is much sweeter now but not overbearing on your taste buds.  You get a good hit of vanilla ice cream and toffee syrup but it isn’t as sickly sweet Morgans.  I seem to remember my previous samples of Sailor Jerry and cola tasted very much like Cream Soda.  This new formula is definitely very different if I can detect such a change after such a limited experience previously.  The rum is quite enjoyable this way.  Unlike The Kraken Spiced Rum it doesn’t feel like a very young rum is being disguised by artificial flavourings.  The rum isn’t as gently spiced as Foursquare Spiced but I do believe that beneath the Sailor Jerry there is actually a half decent blend of Caribbean rum.    It does however need a good twist of lime to be added to a mixed drink to take away some of the vanilla taste for me.  I’m not a big fan of vanilla flavouring in rum.

It should also be considered that for your money you are also getting a 40% ABV rum.  Whilst personally I don’t think there is a great deal of difference between a rum at 37.5 and 40% ABV, it does again suggest that there is an element of care and attention that has went into this rum.  The producers aren’t looking to cut corners (and price) by bottling at a slightly lesser ABV. A lot of spiced rums come in at 35% ABV.

I’m not a huge fan of Spiced Rum.  My favourite to date is the Chairmans Reserve Spiced Rum (I need to get another bottle and do a review – this blog came a long time after I drank that).  This is not a bad spirit but if it comes down to personal preference it isn’t a rum I would buy often.  It’s just not my cup of tea (or glass of rum).  Judged as a Spiced Rum this is not a bad example of the field.  It is reasonably subtle, it doesn’t taste artificial or like its been massively over sweetened.  There are far worse offenders in the Spiced Rum market than Norman Collins!

3 stars







This post may contain affiliate links. As a result I may receive commission based on sales generated from links on this page. Review scores are not affected by or influenced by this.

2 comments on “The Original Sailor Jerry Spiced Caribbean Rum

  1. hey there, really enjoy your takes on rum and was wondering about something I saw on my 100cl Australian bottle of Sailor Jerry’s.
    Apparently my bottle is produced in the Caribbean but manufactured & bottled in Scotland…..

    Nothing surprises me when it comes to rum really. In Australia we also get Coruba rum (which I find to be superior to both Myers and Gosling for Dark and Stormys) but some bottles are labelled as 100% Jamaican rum and some are labelled as J Wray & Son – Aged in Jamaica. The rear label states that the rum is finished in New Zealand!
    Still tastes great but…. wtf

  2. SJ rum is garbage and the people who started the company are too. They are an insult to Norman’s name.

Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved.  Premium WordPress Plugins