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Rum Review: Tanduay Asian Rum

Tanduay Asian Rum Review

Tanduay Asian Rum

Hailing from the Philippines, Tanduay is the number two-selling rum brand in the world after Bacardi. If you find that surprising, consider that the same country is the number one market for gin on the planet. Yes, Filipinos know their spirits, and we can trace much of that influence back to Spanish colonization, which began way back in the 1500’s. Tanduay itself began about three hundred years later in 1854, founded by the Ynchaustis—a family of Basque traders who owned sugar interests in the islands, among others.

Today, Tanduay is owned by the Lucio Tan Group, which has grown the brand by leaps and bounds. Having saturated the home market, Tanduay has begun a major global expansion, and you can now find it on shelves across the United States. Let’s take a look at the Tanduay Silver and Gold expressions and see if Tanduay’s success will continue here in the States.

The Tanduay bottles are clear and elegantly adorned with raised glass scrolls and the Tanduay “T”. Also raised in glass are the words “Rum of Distinction, Est. 1854”. The labels themselves are quite small—it’s as though the company is saying “let the rum speak for itself”. The tops are covered by a metal screw cap. Let’s get some in a glass; we’ll start with the silver.

Well, it may be called Silver, but the rum itself is clearly a straw color, which is most welcome to me as I can only assume it has been loosely filtered after oak aging. A swirl in the snifter yields evidence of its ample viscosity—droplets creep downward only after several seconds.

The nose is a bit astringent, with tropical fruits rising up from the glass: banana and kiwi principal among them. There is also a dose of citrus: lemon and a bit of orange. Under the fruit is some molasses and a hint of caramel. Let’s have a taste…

The rum enters with just a bit of spice, and for a light rum, there is an ample dose of oak that makes me cock my head in appreciation. The mouthfeel is slick and warm, and as my palate is conditioned, I can begin to detect flavors beyond the oak: orange, banana, and pepper stand out prominently. There is a bit of a dusty component as well as a hint of leather and tobacco. Smooth? Yes, but not uninteresting, and definitely a bit different than the traditional Spanish style of light rum. The finish is fairly long, with the oak being the most persistent characteristic—a unique characteristic in a light rum, to be sure!

Moving on to the Gold now, it is indeed golden colored, but also possesses flashes of copper and bronze when held to the light. Upon swirling, multitudinous legs appear and fall back gracefully. The nose begins with just a hint of astringency followed by banana, caramel, vanilla, and pepper. We’re off to a good start—let’s investigate further…

The first taste hits my palate and I’m taken by its roundness; I can’t help but think this young rum is exhibiting characteristics beyond its age. The flavors are fruity and spicy, dry and sweet, all at the same time. As I continue my evaluation, I notice the oak tannins taking hold, but the dusky notes are ultimately done in by the fruit: banana and orange, primarily. Beyond the fruit is the caramel and vanilla, butterscotch and toffee, followed by more pepper, allspice and a touch of cinnamon. The finish is long and moderately spicy, ending with a hint of sweet oak.

Having enjoyed Tanduay’s rums for the home market, I must say that the expressions they’ve created for the U.S. market are a cut above: very round, very refined, and eminently drinkable. Granted, these are meant to be mixing rums, but the gold could certainly be enjoyed on the rocks or even straight. And both the silver (which I maintain is “straw” colored) and the gold each make fabulous classic rum cocktails such as Mojitos, Daiquiris, Cuba Libres, etc. Well done, Tanduay! Mabuhay!

On to the scores:

Tanduay Silver

  • Appearance 1/1
  • Aroma 1.5/2
  • Mouth feel 1/1
  • Taste 2.5/4
  • Aftertaste 1.5/2
  •  Total 7.5/10

Buy Tanduay Silver Asian Rum online

Tanduay Gold

  • Appearance 1/1
  • Aroma 2/2
  • Mouth feel 1/1
  • Taste 2.5/4
  • Aftertaste 1.5/2
  •  Total 8/10

Buy Tanduay Gold Asian Rum here

Disclosure: Tanduay’s PR firm provided these bottles for review.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2013 3:26 pm

    Hi Josh and thanks for a review on this new-to-us (US) rhum or rum. Of course they have have contracted a flashy new American website, and upgraded their old original website. And the marketing department has outdone itself with new copy, new bottle, and the like.

    Yes, Tanduay is huge, HUGE I say and have the shekels to pull off the rewriting of what traditionally has been a very, very suspect product. Josh, you wonder why they call it “Asian Rum”? Perhaps this will help. I was fortunate enough to save copy from their old website some years ago, and I hope everyone is sitting down, seat backs up, and seat belts engaged. And I quote Tanduay:

    ““ALCOHOL. The most important ingredient in rhum is distilled alcohol. Tanduay’s main supplier of distilled alcohol is Asian Alcohol, which provides 70% of the total requirement, while the remaining 30% comes from other local and foreign suppliers. Raw Alcohol is transported to the plant by tanker. Within the plant, the alcohol is blended together with demineralized water, sugar and other ingredients.”

    Apparently Tanduay doesn’t even distill their own spirit, and depends on adding “sugar and other ingredients” to achieve their profiles. Do I have your attention now? Keep reading…

    ““VARIOUS INGREDIENTS. Various ingredients and flavoring agents are used in the production of rum. The main distributor is International Flavors, which supplies 75% of the company’s requirements.”

    Tanduay sees “rum” as just a name, and their strange product is simply a recipe of purchased alcohol, sugar, and other flavorings. They simply assemble what they want to sell and label now as “Asian Rum”.

    And how about that labeling? These clearly flavored concoctions are all labeled “rum”. At their glitzy new American website their “silver” is described as “up to” five years old, and the “gold”? “Up to” seven years. If there’s any real aged rum hidden in the blend, it’s not much, but barely enough to make the claim. Not terribly transparent, eh (pun intended, lol).

    Now I don’t doubt for a minute that the taste engineers have done their job, but what I want to know was how this product was assembled…

  2. January 9, 2014 2:26 pm

    Thanks for confirming what we believed about the liquid when we first tasted it, Josh.

    I led the launch of Tanduay Asian Rum, and have to admit i cringed when I read on their website the “alcohol” paragraph Jim cites. I can promise you that Tanduay distills an amazing amount of rum each and every week. The companies behind the distillation are subsidiaries of Tanduay for business reasons, but are managed and run as part of Tanduay. Asian Alcohol is one of those companies. Absolut Distillers is another. They get much of their raw material (molasses) from wholly owned subsidiary Victorias Milling. In Negros, the sugar capital of the Philippines, VMC is the largest central mill in Asia and in the World and produces about 30% of the countries sugar. Why would they purchase rum from someone else?

    Also, to put things in context, rum is a top spirit in the Philippines, and Tanduay is THE leading brand – and like any producer, makes their products to be successful in the marketplace. They couldn’t be the leading producer in an extremely low priced market with razor thin margins by not meeting the needs of local consumers, which they do – and well. I can promise you that the Tanduay Asian Rum you buy here in the US has no flavorings added. It’s pure rum, aged in oak barrels, with water added to reduce the proof. They want to compete on the international market – why would they cut corners to make a product that wasn’t made to an international standard? And then sell it at a premium price?

    The age statement refers to the Tanduay philosophy of blending rums of various ages together which results in an expanded flavor profile, which you noticed, Josh. As rum ages in the barrel, different flavors and textures develop over time – and by blending those variously aged rums together is what gives the complex flavors. And the older rums lend smoothness.

    And lastly, it’s called “Asian Rum” because Tanduay comes from Asia – and wants to be known for as that – and highlight how the Asian sugarcane creates superior rum and has been growing there for thousands of years, as opposed to hundreds in the Caribbean, where it isn’t even a native plant. I wish them continued success with a product you clearly enjoyed.

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