Yolo Rum Podcast with CEO Philip Guerin
Yolo is more than a premium rum brand, it’s a movement; find out why with CEO Philip Guerin.
Mission Rum Love with Phil Guerin
With rums of varying quality coming from more than 80 countries around the world, people are just beginning to discover how dynamic and delicious rum can be. For CEO Phil Guerin, rum love flourished over the course of more than 40 trips to Central America and the Caribbean.
Love & Rum in Central America
According to Guerin, the story of Yolo began in 2007 when he and his wife Jessica met while volunteering for the Cooperative for Education, non-profit organization dedicated to “breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education.”
As Guerin’s exposure to Central American and Caribbean culture grew, so did his appreciation and understanding of the kind of experience a premium rum can provide.
“When I was [travelling], rum is the spirit of choice for those in the Caribbean and in Central America,” he said. “Before then, I didn’t know rum was even good at all [and] when people try Yolo rum they’re really surprised at how high-quality the spirit is.”
Pairing with the Perfect Partners
With his mission to share rum love solidified, it was Guerin’s wife who helped him find the perfect rum-making partner: award-winning roñero, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez. With a career defined by the search for the perfect rum, Fernandez was the last piece of the puzzle.
“My wife is really the person that connected us to Don Pancho and our distillery and our bottling company in Panama,” said Guerin. “It’s an amazing relationship. My wife was an executive in Central America and she was very well-connected…she came through in a huge way.”
After meeting and speaking with Fernandez, Guerin shared his vision for a premium rum that would wake Americans up to what rum could be.
“[I wanted to create] a spirit that could compare to a fine scotch or whiskey,” Guerin said. “I explained [to Don Pancho] how popular those dark spirits are in America and that for people to understand [how dynamic premium rum is], it really has to come across with the smokiness of the America charred white oak. The tannins from these barrels provide a lot of the butterscotch and vanilla flavors that come across in America whiskey.”
YOLO: You Only Live Once
Creating a high-quality rum to rival one of America’s favorite spirits wasn’t Guerin’s only goal. He also wanted to create a rum that would educate people about the experience a well-made rum can provide. “[Yolo] is a proprietary blend. It’s our blend, nobody has this blend, nobody has this profile and that’s why we’re able to go out and win these awards; because there’s nothing like our rum out there,” he said.
The recipe for Yolo wasn’t developed overnight. It took months for Don Pancho to develop a process that honored Guerin’s vision to deliver a high-quality flavor and experience to consumers. “Yolo is born from love in so many different ways…I truly believe it is the standard by which all rum should be held,” he said.
Armed with the formula for the perfect rum, next came developing a brand with as much punch as the spirit that it would define. After winning a five and a half year fight to secure the Yolo trademark, Yolo is defined by quality and passion. From thoughtful nuances like UV ink on each label to an explosively successful guerrilla-style approach to marketing that has been mimicked by industry giants, Yolo is changing the way people live and drink. “It’s not often that a brand creates passion,” Guerin said. “People have a passion for our brand…Yolo is a movement.”