Sailor Jerry faces fans backlash

Fans of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum in the UK have launched an internet campaign to force brand owners First Drinks to change the formula of the drink back to the way it was before last month’s relaunch.

sailor-jerry-bottle-shotbig.jpgMore than 6,500 people have already signed up to a Facebook group called “Petition against Sailor Jerry’s new recipe” since it was created on 23 February.

the drinks business website was also inundated with negative reactions from disappointed drinkers.

The revamped drink carries less vanilla and lime character than its previous incarnation, with First Drinks insisting the new liquid is the result of prolonged consultation with bar staff and drinkers across the country.

However, fans of the original drink seem unimpressed and the group is urging disaffected drinkers to email First Drinks to voice their opinions and attempt to get the company to change the formula back.

One fan, Aimee Robinson, wrote: “I think the new Sailor Jerry is terrible, its tastes like a cheap supermarket own brand rum! It’s lost what made it stand out from all the other rums.”

Another, Ruth Turner, posted: “I tried it, sent it back as I thought it was off or something. Got another and again took it back to be told the recipe had changed. I’m not a massive spirit drinker and loved that it was different. Yes the sweetness doesn’t appeal to proper rum drinkers but original Sailor Jerry’s took care of us softies.”

Gemma Adams, brand manager for Sailor Jerry at First Drinks, maintains that the new formula has been generally well-received, saying: “The new liquid has been extremely well received by bartenders who have been vital to the brand’s success to date."

Alan Lodge, 10.03.2010

45 Responses to “Sailor Jerry faces fans backlash”

  1. Goody says:

    they should change it back.-would be loss of face somewhat, but better that than losing their customer base.which may be the reality
    Which bartenders did they speak to?? obviously purists
    this product is not what that is about.
    For my bar , I have to adapt or delist my Sailor Jerry cocktails. jurys out on that one,depending on customer response..

  2. David says:

    I have always prefered Seale’s Foursquare Rum from Barbados. I find it has more vanilla / cinnamon notes and also a touch of star anise. Sailor Jerry is pretty good, but I guess it is all a matter of personal choice.

  3. Roach says:

    I couldn’t care if others like the finest Trinibago rum filtered through a supermodel’s panties, or sprit gently squeezed from the musk gland of a rare mountain goat in season, Sailor Jerry’s was a fun drink… and easy to get hold of.

  4. Cornelius says:

    I love Sailor Jerry’s, but maybe they should take the new style and pair it up with New Coke, I’m sure it would be a hit.

    Hey SJ, bar staff don’t drink the stuff, we do, don’t screw the people that got you here.

    Very dumb move.

  5. Nik says:

    Im shocked !! I have tasted the new Sailor Jerry and it tastes more like Morgans Spiced or Havana Club. Both taste great but Sailor had its own individual character that made it my drink of choice. Now Im not a happy person. If you feel the same and are on facebook join up on the following link :!/pages/Petition-against-Sailor-Jerrys-new-Recipe/319137807764

  6. james pooler says:

    not gonna say what everbody else said ill keep it simple got a bottle of sj on sunday am takin in back 2moro dont wanna waste my money

    ps if it aint broke dont fix it

  7. shuli says:

    I’m a bartender and I most definately was not consulted about this change! If I was I would have said NO NO NO YOU ARE RUINING MY FAVOURITE DRINK! so sad

  8. Ben Green says:

    Why, why why would you change the recipe? If I didnt like Sailor Jerry soooooo much, Id sit and laugh at the massive drop in revenue your about to receive.

    Please bring back the Original Jerry, no this so called “New Recipe”!

  9. MeMoMoney says:

    Anyone who has ever heard the word business knows that it’s what the customer thinks of your product as they are the people who buy them, not the bartenders. Sailor Jerry’s came out of nowhere to be one of the UK’s most popular drinks, bartenders can only persuade you to try something new once, if the flavour is rubbish then customers aren’t going to buy it again.

    Sailor Jerrys’s STOP BEING RETARDED.

  10. Anna says:

    my local supermarkets don’t seem to stock sailor jerry’s, so when my mum bought me a bottle was surprised…. only to find that it was the new stuff 🙁

    now it’s just sitting in my cupboard, untouched 🙁

    gona have to resort to the old vodka and coke now….

  11. Susie says:

    Will not be buying any more. Very disappointing!

  12. Ben says:

    Stocked up on some of the old bottles, wont be buying any of the new. Seems weird changing a recipe that had suddenly got so popular in the UK to taste the same as other Rums that are simply not popular (the new UK flavour is the American flavour thats been around for years). I think SJ would have become the most popular Rum in th UK had the original recipe continued.

    Will be a sad day if the original (UK) flavour never makes a return >:(

  13. Alex says:

    Extremely disappointing they changed the recipe. The bottle label and background info added to the back was a nice touch, but they never should of changed the recipe.

    As for asking bartenders, what they meant to say was, they asked a board of cocktail buffs, and since the resurgence is in making the rum the “star” they have decided to mess with the additional flavours.

    As for real bartenders, all the ones I know, love the way it was, not the way they have made it. I’m sure you may have more room to make rum cocktails with it, but your old favourite won’t be anymore.

    It was having a massive surge all across England afaik, it’s a massive hit in all our local bars, we even got stuffy bars to start stocking it through sheer demand. (they had said it was too sweet for a rum).

  14. Swifty says:

    Whos the wise guy. How stupid can you be. Make a great drink, then decide that every one who likes it is wrong!!!!!!
    I am a Landlord in Cornwall my regulars hate the new mouthwash.
    We will not get it bak in stock until the lod taste returns.

  15. karlie says:

    i drink SJ regularly and the last time i purchased one i sent it back because i thought there was something wrong with it i received another one and it still tasted the same after moving onto another bar again i purchased a SJ and it tasted the same and then i noticed the packaging on the bottle and spoke to my friend about the change the bar tender overheard our conversation and informed me of the recipe change, a brand should never change recipes a variation is ok i.e coke… diet coke but never the original product should always stay the same, the change is totally different from the original (in a bad way) and i wont be buying it any more .

  16. amy griffin and jimmy murfitt says:

    not happy about the change me n my boyfriend drink this every weekend 4 an enjoyment we have got most of our mates on this drink i wont be buying it until its got its old flavour that gave it the ((SAILOR JERRY))the name worth mentioning, made different from the rest dissapointed

  17. Stevo76 says:

    Last weekend we couldn’t get any of the Sailor Jerry rum we were used to having and instead tried the new variety and were completely underwhelmed by the taste of the new recipe Sailor Jerry.

    The Sailor Jerry brand had not only a much loved image, but was able to back up the brand image with a product worthy of the hype. The new recipe of Sailor jerry places it firmly amongst the mediocre. And now its price point doesnt justify its purchase over other rums as it now tastes very similar to cheaper options.

    would it not have been more prudent to continue producing the vanilla and lime spiced variant of Sailor Jerry we are all love, and run the new recipe in tandem with the already established product. I appreciate that business models are prone to change, but to change an established, successful product and alienate your existing customer base is not sound business sense. As a business they should be striving to retain old customers whilst generating new revenue streams to gain a larger customer base.

    Their “bold” strategy sparks of lunacy.

  18. dan says:

    I’ve sent this to First Drinks and looking forward to my reply..:)

    So we are now being supplied with the US version of SJ, to be honest, its not that good.

    I’ve read this is because that its the “US” receipe..and the US like we gotta like it..

    Tastes are different all over the world, In Korea they eat dog, (thats their choice/customs) but we dont, it doesnt make it right or wrong but if you were a Korean Company you wouldnt think..mmm, ok lets make dog soup and sell it in the UK cos nobody would would buy it so money down the pan

    Questions need to be asked, was market research done? did anyone ask how SJ could be improved ? why not do a sample test between the 2 brands ? SJ was a success story with very limited marketing so word of mouth and the actual product was the sales pitch but now… oh dear…the words “foot” “in” “shot” and the” spring to mind, whoever made this decision shouldnt be getting their annual bonus this year or even worse made to drink the “US” SJ.

  19. nick mcglenn says:

    Quite simply the worst marketing move ever. Its not just been changed its unrecognizable. And the new recipe is bad, VERY bad! I have not spoke to one person who likes it. AS for “speaking to bartenders” since when did they buy the drinks in bars they serve them. What has that got to do with anything. Change it back and sack everyone responsible for this ridiculous change

  20. paul says:

    Is this the worst business decision ever??
    We average 10 to 15 litres a week with the good stuff, I won’t be stocking the new. So thats 700+ litres you have to make up with that dreadful liquid.


  21. Dann says:

    I don’t understand the change. The old Sailor Jerry’s was a unique rum that everybody loved.
    When you looked for it in the supermarket it was always sold out and they were struggling to get it stocked on the shelves. Now the new recipe is out they cant get rid of the stuff. Its no longer a Unique rum and more like a very cheap supermarket’s own brand spiced rum. I shall never drink this new recipe ever again. Oh and there are just under 20,000 people and still rising on facebook who also feel the same way.
    Sailor Jerry’s what are you doing??????

  22. Diane Anderson says:

    i am sooo gutted that sailor Jerry have changed their recipe, the new one is disgusting. i think they should totally bring back the old recipe thats what makes sailor jerry sailor jerry now its nothing special now i do not buy there new product i’d rather drink morgans spiced!

    BRING IT BACK!!! i need it.

  23. christine says:

    BRING BACK THE OLD RECIPE! We will keep saying it!

    I run a pub and we used to go through 4+ bottles in a week (it’s a small pub so that is good), now it’s more like 1 bottle a month, and most people have one glass and have something else instead. SJ execs – you have made a huge mistake.

    I never drink SJ anymore, it used to be my drink of choice. The quality has dropped significantly and the price is still the same – this is a cheap money-making trick on your part… (unless you too have noticed a decrease in revenue??) BOOOOOO TO YOOOOOU!!!! Nothing stands out about this drink anymore, it’s actually pretty rough tasting now in my opinion, and it never used to give me a hangover and now it does.

    Sort it out, please? You need to listen to this feedback – it’s no good saying you have had advice from bartenders etc, you have got it wrong… I’m a bloody glorified barmaid! Admit that you are wrong to do this and put it right, you will all be richer. Who knows, remarketing the “Classic” SJ rum could be a massive money spinner for you – I guarantee it – you put both types side by side on a supermarket shelf, I know which one I would pay a bit more for.

    Oh and I wrote to your customer service team back in Feb asking if my local pub was trying to rip me off with a cheap imitation (which obv they weren’t) and they promised to send me a bottle for free, suffice to say it never arrived – even if it did it would still be sat unopened.

  24. Matt says:

    :@ Rage…. My favorite drinks has being destroyed!! My university pre-drinking sessions are over 🙁 My life has now come to a bitter end!!! Give us the good stuff back!

  25. richard marshall says:

    Petitioned on Facebook- what happened there?- wrote to first drink, turned down bottle of new, inferior rum, have not touched new stuff in a bar and don’t know any bar owners or staff who prefer new shite…still missing the old, good stuff>:(

  26. vikki says:

    The new stuff is not good, tastes like morgans spiced – nice, but doesnt have that same “something” that the original stuff had. My boyfriend is a ‘real’ rum drinker and loved the old stuff, a nice change from woods!

  27. Phil says:

    Really suffering now, I have looked everywhere for a bottle of the old recipe any ideas anyone where I can find one ?

  28. Steve Brown says:

    Just got hold of a 1.5L bottle of the old stuff. Will be drinking it in thimbleful’s until the idiots at SJ listen to their customers. How much would it cost them to produce both at the same time?

  29. Craig Gabraitis says:

    Opened my new bottle of SJ last week; thought the cold i was carrying had affected the taste. Asked my other half to give me a second opinion, she confirmed something was very wrong!! Get rid of that repulsive cat urine please SJ and give us back the good stuff!! The bottle has been retired to the back of my drinks cupboard until i can find some unsuspecting individual to peddle it onto. Oh and i wont be spending any more of my hard earned coin on that honking bilge!!!

  30. Shep says:

    Used to end the evening in the pub on this along with the other guys and probably got through half a bottle at least between us, but now – no way it’s horrible!! We had gradually converted people over to this from their traditional end of the evening brandy, and it is word of mouth, but the word now is don’t buy it and definitely dont drink it!! Get the old receipe reinstated !! Listen to your customers.>:(

  31. euan says:

    Right,so let’s get it straight-they had a really succesful drink,which everybody loved,and they decided to change it because they couldn’t be bothered making it for the uk any more.why doesn’t coke change its recipe to asda’s own cola as well?outrage.

  32. colum says:

    Guys, SJ have said the old recipe is coming back at some point this year.

    Maybe they do listen to us ordinary folks ;D;D;D;D;D

  33. The Drinks Business says:

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but was intrigued by previous comment so put the question direct to Sailor Jerry. Here’s the response from my contact:

    “The rumour isn’t true. I checked with the Senior Brand Manager and the Marketing Controller and there are definitely no plans to change the liquid for the foreseeable future.

    “Apparently the rumours have come from the Sailor Jerry FB followers.”

    There you have it folks – SJ will remain in its current form for the foreseeable future.

  34. craig22 says:

    I really cant understand it. and the press release that they have canvassed bartenders and customers must be total rubbish because i know of literally nobody who likes the newer version when compared to the older drink. it smacks to me of a money saving scheme to just use the same recipe as the usa. why when we had a successful unique product would they change it? money plain and simple. just so frustrating as the old recipe was so good!!!

  35. dubversion says:

    A barman told me last night that the real issue lay with some kind of brand sale / takeover where the new owners got the name, logo, brand etc but failed to secure the actual recipe, hence the awful new blend. Don’t know if it’s true but it would explain one of the most catastrophic marketing disasters in a long time – nobody I know touches the new one. The company must be really feeling it, despite their face-saving and hubris

  36. Dissapointed says:

    The price of Vanilla pods have soared and are now a too expensive ingredient to remain competitive on price – hence the new receipe uses less expensive components and is cheaper to produce… Over time they think us original fans will come back and the company will be quids in! But to be honest I would rather they had just put the price up a couple of quid and sold the original flavour alongside the new rubbish.. I know which one I would spend my money on (even if it is a little extra)

  37. Tom Hurst says:

    Old J Spiced Rum brings sweet limey vanilla goodness back to the spiced rum game.
    Check us out at or
    Feedback on our product so far includes:
    “I love this stuff, ordered two bottles and I must say being a huge fan of the SJ old flavour I was not disappointed, the smell is there and the taste might even be better!” – Russell Would
    it brings back so many memories and I can only see success for this brand!
    “The only thing different is the label! If you loved Sailor Jerry you MUST try this!!!” – Annie Davies
    I was looking forward to trying this rum and wasn\\\’t disapointed. If you used to like the old Sailor Jerry\\\’s recipe, then you\\\’ll definitely love this. This is a very smooth and sweet rum, smells amazing. I\\\’ve been having this with ginger beer, ice and a piece of lime – highly recommended!- Graham Milnes
    “Received our first bottle of this yesterday. We’d been trying various other spiced rums since the demise of Sailor Jerry, but none of them came anywhere near, until now! As soon as we cracked the cap we knew it was going to be good, the smell was mouth watering! With the bank holiday coming up I don’t think its going to last very long….. roll on pay day so I can order some more.”- Alec Bateman
    “Sat drinking Old J Rum. Got to get up at 6am and its a bit too moreish!!!” – Caz Baldry
    “Just got my bottle and oh my god, how I have missed that sweet nectar ,it is lush !!!!!!!” – Steve Butt
    “This rum tastes immense. If you like Old recipe Sailor Jerry’s then get on this.” – Matthew Lostrites

  38. Lee says:

    I think people are being a bit harsh on this drink. It’s alright. Not as good as the old stuff granted, but at the moment I’ll buy Morgan’s Spiced instead, if I feel like a change I’ll buy this. Should it be marketed as SJ? No. Of course it will do well in bars, it says Sailor Jerry on the label! In bars people just want casual shorts / shots. It’s only when you buy a bottle you feel let down.

    Cheers Tom for the heads up “Old J”. Not heard of that one before, nice one 😉

  39. Lee says:

    I just saw your website, gotta get me a bottle of this soon! Just the thought of this with Crabbies ginger beer is making me drool. Stuff the ice!

  40. gotchya produktos Inc. says:

    Admiral Vernon’s Old J spiced rum is now available in Alberta, Canada and its going “Great Guns” here!

    It has just won an award in the Alberta Beverage Awards for the Spiced Rum category and that will carry it a long way in the local market.

    Give it a try!

  41. Sailor Jerry says:

    You probably find the % of sales from die hard customers (although vocal) will be small compared to the Friday / Saturday night boozers / binge drinkers who want a less lime / less vanilla rum drink. Probably preferred with mixers now so removing the lime / vanilla may make it more sellable. Hence economics have dictated a change in an increasingly competitive drinks market. Also looks like brings it inline with a US recipe so should be the same globally. See opal fruits became starburst etc. Booze is about £$ not really so much about product quality (as with most things) look at some of the beer companies – change the recipes to brew <5% and avoided hefty EU taxes.

  42. David Leach says:

    Old J all the way now baby !!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Paul phelps says:

    I have original pre 2010 sailor jerry change of recipe in perfect condition. 70cl size if anyone interested ?

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