Behind the dancing hula girl on a bottle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum lie the colourful lives of a famed tattoo artist and an adland maverick.
Norman Collins, nicknamed Sailor Jerry, an ex-sailor turned tattoo artist, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, was the inspiration for the brand.
Also known as a musician, radio host, poet, prolific letter-writer and practical joker, it was in the world of tattooing where he carved out a reputation as one of the art's most prominent names.
Collins combined two major influences in his work: his naval background and time spent at sea around Asia. His tattoo style relied on bold and graphic images including anchors, ships, nautical stars, and pin-up and hula girls, along with the strong colours and lines of traditional Asian tattoo work.
Collins was highly influential in US tattoo culture, for his style as well as for introducing safety measures, such as the sterilisation of needles, that helped the art gain a more professional standing.
Following his death in 1973, two of his proteges, Don Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, were entrusted with his designs and Malone took over Collins' Honolulu shop, China Sea Tattoo.
Sailor Jerry's legacy was given new life with the creation of Sailor Jerry Inc in the late 90s, when adman and entrepreneur Steven Grasse bought the rights from Hardy and Malone.
Grasse had already created the gin brand Hendrick's, but was looking for another brand he could call his own. Founding a clothing line adorned with Collins' designs, he played on the counterculture image of Sailor Jerry, connecting with musicians, as well as the rising popularity of the tattoo scene. He has since added accessories and gift lines.
As a drink associated with seafarers, a Sailor Jerry spiced rum soon followed, adorned with the signature dancing hula girl tattoo design and produced with William Grant & Sons.
Wholly owned by the Scottish distiller since 2008, a presence in music, at events such as the Big Chill festival, and tie-ups with the likes of Converse, have helped the Sailor Jerry brand grow. Adding further authenticity to the brand image, Grasse helped create a documentary and book about Collins' life that also explored the roots of American tattooing.
In just 13 years, the Sailor Jerry brand has brought the life of a cult figure to the attention of an international audience, and made its presence felt in the spirits market.
Andy Knowles, chairman, JKR
The first lesson from Sailor Jerry's success should be burned into the chip of all would-be innovators - challenge the assumptions.
While most distillers chased growth in white spirits, founder Stephen Grasse put his energy into dark rum, just as the big money moved out.
However, it was the former ad agency-owner's creative flair for branding and communication that make Sailor Jerry a true champion.
And the foundations for its long-term success were laid by meticulous design.
As a matelot-turned tattoo artist had lent his nickname to the brand, the branding should evoke his story. A traditional whisky-style bottle with a striking seafarer's tattoo design on its label catches the eye and nails its proposition as a brand for those who are not slaves to fashion.
(Oddly, for a hard drink consumed by hard men, the recent, somewhat kitsch, reincarnation of the label featuring a Hawaiian hula girl diminishes both standout and masculinity.)
Distribution in bars frequented by nonconformists and association with musicians outside the mainstream quickly brought Sailor Jerry enthusiastic converts more powerfully than mainstream advertising ever could.
Sailor Jerry is a sobering reminder of what creativity can achieve when set free - something smart organisations like William Grant & Sons appreciate as they supplement internal innovation programmes with acquisitions from the unconventional pioneers rarely to be found within the corporate world.
1911: Norman Collins was born in California. He learned the art of machine tattooing from another legend, Gib 'Tatts' Thomas, in Chicago.
1930s: Collins adopted the nickname Hori Smoku. Hori means 'to carve', and is a traditional surname of Japanese tattoo masters.
1973: Following Collins' death, the legacy of Sailor Jerry, including his Honolulu tattoo parlour and tattoo designs, was acquired by fellow artists Don Ed Hardy and Mike Malone.
1999: Steven Grasse, president of Philadelphia ad agency Quaker City Mercantile, acquired the rights to Sailor Jerry's legacy from Hardy and Malone.
2008: UK distillery William Grant & Sons bought all rights to the Sailor Jerry brand name.