Simply put, the guys who started the company were Sailor Jerry fans. They created Sailor Jerry Limited to keep alive the legacy of the man, Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins.
They started it as a small mom and pop clothing brand in Philadelphia, collaborating with local artists to make leather goods, sneakers, t-shirts and other products featuring Sailor Jerry's flash. Since Sailor Jerry spent half his life as a sailor (and the other half tattooing sailors) it was a natural move to create a spiced rum in his name.
A cult started to grow around the rum, and pretty soon, it started to outsell anything else they made.
Maybe because it was hauled around the globe by sailors or maybe because it's just good, rum has traditionally been the most prolific of the world’s spirits. Although a few other places lay claim to their own varieties, the Caribbean is generally accepted as the heart of the rum world (which is why it's where Sailor Jerry is and will always be distilled!)
Rum has been intertwined with Caribbean culture for nearly 400 years, coming into existence alongside the sugar industry. The 1600s were the coming-out century for rum. Quality grew by leaps and bounds and so did people's taste for it. By 1789, a hogshead of the finest Caribbean rum was chosen as fit for the first presidential inauguration of an upstart nation called the United States of America. Today's Caribbean rum distillers have well over 200 years of experience perfecting the art of distillation, aging and blending.
Adding spices to rum is an old sailor’s tradition. Those first rums were crude and harsh, so seamen would blend and mix in any spices they had on hand to improve the rum’s flavor. Today the harshness is no more, but the art of spicing rum is alive and well.