Olli HietalahtiMr. Olli Hietalahti, CEO of One Eyed Spirits, producer of Ron de Jeremy Reserva and Spiced Rums.
We are happy to bring you this interview with Mr. Olli Hietalahti, CEO of One Eyed Spirits, as part of our continuous effort to educate consumers and trade members about the industry.
Celebrity-endorsed spirits can be tricky, as often their only claim to fame is the name associated with the product. In “Ron de Jeremy” we find an authentically-aged rum inside the bottle, capable of surviving close scrutiny, formulated to be equally pleasing neat or in a cocktail.
We feel this is a winning combination and wish the producers great success .
Q: You are probably tired of talking about it , but could you share with our readers how the idea of “Ron de Jeremy” was born?
A: Actually I still like to tell the story. After all it changed my professional life. As you know most good ideas are born in a bar. Several years back when I was still working at advertising I was sitting in a bar in Amsterdam with my good friend and colleague Jouko Laune. There was a rum poster on the wall, you know, a nice picture of a bottle with a caption “Ron de...”. We can’t remember which brand it was, but it made us realize that ron is the Spanish word for rum. Then the idea came to us simultaneously. Ron means rum! Ron Jeremy! There are many Rons but only one is larger than life. There was a lot of laughter that night! There and then we developed the brand and Jouko did the first sketches of the bottle layout. Naturally on the bar receipt.
Q: That is fascinating. One of the things that I f ind special about Ron de Jeremy, is that when people first hear about the rum, they don’t really expect it to be anything special, but when they try it , they all agree is quite fantastic. Why was it important to you to have a world class rum inside the bottle?
A: When we were developing the idea many people said it doesn’t matter what you put in the bottle, it ’s going to sell thanks to Ron Jeremy. We never bought that. Sure it might sell one bottle, but we wanted people to come back for more. Our aim was to create smiles with the brand and satisfaction with the rum. We are grateful and humbled that Don Pancho agreed to create the rum. As one blog nicely said: “ It ’s all Ron Jeremy outside and Don Pancho inside.” That’s exactly the way we like it.
Q: I have noticed you have also won accolades in competitions. Can you tell us more about them?
A: Yes, 2012 was good for us also in that respect. For Reserva we got Gold at the International Rum Conference in Madrid and SIP Awards and Silver at Rum Masters. Spiced scored Platinum and Best of Class at SIP Awards.
Q: Which countries is Ron de Jeremy currently available in?
A: 2012 was absolutely manic for us. We started the year with few markets and closed with 20 countries. Currently we are available in the USA (Florida, California, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Cyprus and St. Barth.
There are a lot of discussions going and a lot of interest from new markets. We expect to be in 25 countries soon. But there are still places to go. The key for us is to find importers and distributors who truly dig and understand the brand.
Q: I heard that you have a very ambitious plan for expanding the market while at the same time offering consumers a once- in-a- lifetime opportunity. Can you tell us more about this plan?
A: Yes. Ron Jeremy is a global icon of popular culture so there naturally is demand from all over the world. We’re expanding to satisfy that demand. As we are a small independent company this requires additional funding. We have many, many times met people who’ve said “hey, what a cool idea, I wish there was a way for me to be part of it.” Now with the rise of new funding vehicles namely crowd funding there is. So instead of talking to deep pocket angel investors or VC’s we are offering the chance of being part of something cool to just anybody. With only € 1 000 you can now own part of a growing spirits company and become a true business partner with the legend.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
A: It has been quite a ride and we’re grateful for all the support we’ve received. We hope we have managed to make people smile more and -through the appeal of Ron Jeremy- hopefully introduced a few people to great rums.
Thank you again for taking the time to grant us this interview, we wish you and your entire team great success.
Thanks Luis! All the best to you and Margaret. Cheers!