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Lucio Tan III leads Tanduay’s US market push amid pandemic

Even as most businesses are reeling under the effect of the pandemic, Filipino rum maker Tanduay Distillers Inc. is pushing for growth overseas.

Now headed by Lucio Tan III, the third-generation scion to one of the Philippines’ biggest conglomerates, Tanduay recently inked deals with the largest US wines and spirits distributors, Johnson Brothers and General Beverage, the company said in a statement Friday.

Tanduay will be available in Europe by the end of the year, it added. It is currently available in China and Singapore, and can be found in Hawaii, Nevada, Wisconsin, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Tennessee, and Michigan, and in the territory of Guam in the United States.

A software engineer, Tan’s direction for the 165-year-old Tanduay business is to bring it to more customers worldwide, making it available not just through traditional marketing and selling but tapping into online channels as well.

“Even before the pandemic, we were already working on making Tanduay available through tech-driven channels. Last June, we launched an online selling site for our Filipino customers, In the US, we have partnered with Caskers and Flaviar, and we are also available through the online sites of our distributor-partners,” Tan, a graduate of Stanford University, said.

Tanduay’s push toward a more visible international presence started in the 2000s. Its more recent initiatives in the US included a partnership with the Golden State Warriors, making it the first Philippine brand to sponsor an NBA team. It had naming rights to the Tanduay Club in the Oracle Arena, and Tanduay Rum can be found at retailers in the Golden State Warriors’ blue and gold “Strength in Numbers” collectible boxes in California. Tanduay currently has its own branded bar at the Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ brand-new arena in San Francisco’s Bay District which opened in 2019.

Tanduay also became the official rum of the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets. It has been a Presenting Sponsor of the 40/40 CLUB and an Associate Sponsor of the arena’s Brooklyn Show platform.

Tanduay also made a foray into entertainment by being one of the sponsors of the Emmy Awards, the first for any Filipino brand.

The company credits its international partnerships and aggressive marketing efforts for its domination of the international rum category. For three years now, Tanduay has been declared the World’s Number One Rum by Drinks International magazine. It has sold millions of cases worldwide, even outselling more popular international rum brands.

“When we market Tanduay internationally, we are also highlighting the craftsmanship of the Filipino. Tanduay is a product that we can proudly say is Philippine-made—from the sugarcane it uses to the unique distilling process it undergoes. These are all products of the Filipino’s hard work and ingenuity,” Tan said.

Tanduay mainly sources its sugarcane from Bacolod in the Visayas, which is a place known for its long history of sugarcane farming. The island is home to the country’s 100-year-old sugar milling company.

Founded in 1854, Tanduay uses the same distillation process that it employed in its now decommissioned distillery in Manila. A Master Blender, who serves as the guardian of Tanduay’s formulas, checks on the consistency and quality of the rums before they are sent for bottling and packaging.

“We’re combining our traditional practices in rum-making with new ways of marketing our products,” Tan said of Tanduay’s direction.

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