Co-Founder of Ron de Jeremy
1) Bucket List items for this year.
- I have twins who are now two years old. So absolutely at the top of my bucket list is to sleep. I dream (awake) of long undisturbed sleep. Maybe even two nights in a row!
- Bit of non-work related travel would be nice also. I’d like to take off little with my wife with no kids, go skiing and golfing with buddies, see Champions League game with my eldest son.
- On the business side we aim to enter few new markets to bring total countries to 30 and will have first full year with Ron de Jeremy XO. We’ll also launch The Hedgehog Gin, which will be interesting.
2) What is the biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplish for the rum industry
I hope we have been able to bring more fun into the rum category. The essence of Ron de Jeremy brand is the smile. We do our best to make people smile twice. First when they meet the brand, and second time when they taste the rum. I’ve been lucky to witness this hundreds of times. First the reaction, “haha Ron Jeremy has a rum brand, that’s hilarious!” And then, “holy shit, this tastes great!”
3) Favorite Drink + Recipe
I’m old fashioned and like the classics. So rum Old Fashioned with Ron de Jeremy Reserva for me. OF is such an easy drink to make but to make it perfect requires dedication and skill.
4) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
I see rum having enormous, although untapped potential. It is such a versatile category from party driven spiced rums up to exquisite sipping rums. I see rum becoming bit more serious and shedding the low quality image it somewhat has. There are more and more great offerings from small producers and more innovative brands coming up. I hope and trust people will trade up from cheap low quality rums. Which is great, we’re in with other small brands to bite the big boys a little bit. Just a little bit from Bacardi and Captain Morgan will do us just fine.
5) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.
Luis Ayala was great help when we first came out. I remember sitting in his living room in Austin surrounded with bookshelves containing close to 1000 different rum bottles. He thought us about the styles, origins, aging, everything. He also held our hands during the first productions and has been reliable source of help ever since.
Don Pancho Fernandez produced our first blends. He has enormous experience and unparallel nose. What a great old school gentleman.
Duncan Hayter, our European Sales Director is has long and extensive experience on the spirits sales. He has taught us a great deal of the business side and his vast network of connections has been invaluable.
Last but not least I’d like to mention my partner in crime Jouko Laune. We came up with the idea of Ron de Jeremy brand together, founded the company and did everything from zero. To work with someone you can trust 110% is priceless.
6) Any last words?
Believe in yourself and your ideas. Most importantly have fun!
7) Learn more about Olli Hietalahti?
Olli Hietalahti is an ex ad guy turned into spirits entrepreneur. After a long and awarded advertising career he and his partner came up with the idea for Ron de Jeremy rum brand and created One Eyed Spirits. Ron de Jeremy Rum is now available in 25 countries and has won multiple awards in competitions. His goal is to have a spirits company with portfolio of innovative brands that share a pop culture twist. Few ideas are currently bubbling under.