Review: Tanduay Asian Rum

Tanduay Asian Rum

Tanduay Asian Rum

The brands at the top of the list of the best selling spirits in the world are a lot different than you’d probably expect. Brands like Jinro, the South Korean soju brand which sold 68 million cases in 2012 (source: IWSR), Thailand’s Ruang Khao, and Philippines’ Emperador brandy eclipse more familiar brands like Jack Daniel’s, Jameson, and SmirnoffIn the rum space, you might expect global titan Bacardi to hold the top spot, but that distinction actually belongs to Filipino brand Tanduay Rum. Traditionally, much of Tanduay’s massive volume has been consumed in the Philippines, but the brand is hoping to woo US consumers and has released a special export version of their rum to the US. Tanduay Silver Rum is a blend of rums aged 0-5 years, and unlike many of the other silver rums on the market, Tanduay does not filter their rum so it has a faint color. 

Tanduay Silver Asian Rum (40% ABV / 80 proof, $19.99) – straw gold in color, Tanduay Silver Rum has a very light nose with vanilla and molasses and a very slight dry grassy note underneath. The nose is a nice blend of sweet and dry and isn’t harsh or vapory in any way. The entry for Tanduay Silver is light and slightly sweet, with the vanilla from the nose there but quickly joined by a slightly bitter, charred molasses note. In the midpalate this charred molasses note fades and the dry grassy note from the nose emerges. This dry grass note is joined by sweet tamarind and a little pepper spice.  Tanduay Rum has a medium finish that is slightly spicy and recaptures some of the molasses notes from the midpalate. When Tanduay’s finish is complete, it leaves your mouth completely clean.

Tanduay Silver Asian Rum is a solid molasses-based rum that’s well distilled and well constructed. While we can understand why it’s such a massively popular rum in the Philippines, it’s hard to see American consumers flocking to Tanduary for anything more than a curiosity purchase. The flavor notes are nice, but they are also decidedly Asian and less tuned to the slightly sweeter or drier American palate (which seems to gravitate towards Bacardi or Brugal). Tanduay has also missed the boat on pricing: at $19.99 it’s too far above Bacardi Superior and Shellback Silver (both closer to the $10 or $15 mark than $20) for what it delivers. It’s hard to imagine American consumers picking Tanduay over much more familiar and lower priced options. Still, we have to commend Tanduay for making a stab at the American market. They do make an interesting rum, but just not one we feel will find much of an audience stateside.


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About the author: Geoff Kleinman


+Geoff Kleinman, is the founder, and managing editor of He is a nationally recognized spirits columnist, and has contributed to Playboy Magazine, Black Book Magazine and Essential Homme. Geoff holds certification with Bar Smarts Advanced, has judged many major spirits and cocktail competitions and is a Kentucky Colonel.



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  • robertburr

    This premium white rum was designed to be a cut above others, aged longer using better quality rum (aged up to five years) than many other similar looking rums. The Tanduay gold, as well, took top honors in the blind tasting competition by judges of the International Rum Expert Panel in 2013. The trend for creating higher quality white rums continues with Bacardi’s Facundo limited edition NEO, aged up to eight years before filtering. Comparing Tanduay white to Silverback is a broad chasm of quality and price. The new Brugal extra dry white is a very fine rum, worth more than average mid-shelf expressions. Perhaps we see the problem here: many people believe all white rums are ordinary, common, uninteresting pedestrian expressions. A closer look reveals a broad range of differences.

    • drinkspirits

      There’s just not enough here to really distinguish it as a premium rum. It’s great that they’ve drawn from solid socks, but the result just isn’t there in the glass. Also the end consumer is not going to see this as premium in any way, South Eastern Asian spirits rarely are so it’s going to go head to head with the other white rums near its price category.

      • robertburr

        Conventional wisdom would have dictated that Tanduay bring a good quality white to the USA and undercut competitors, which they can easily do. Conversely, they made a bold decision to develop a better quality product aimed at a slightly higher price point to offer a better alternative. Will their efforts be appreciated? Perhaps not, but a side-by-side comparison of this rum against $15 rums reveals a clearly better white spirit. Yes, the reputation for many Asian white spirits is underwhelming. The big surprise and the bold choice was developing an excellent white to change the perceptionAsian spirits, like Asian food, can be world-class. This is an excellent white rum. They succeeded in that part of the plan, but if consumer agree with your opinion that this rum is common and unremarkable, they failed to make their case.

        • drinkspirits

          I applaud their intent. But I’d be shocked if they find any traction with this rum at this price point.

  • Josh Miller

    I quite enjoyed this one. It’s worlds apart from their domestic product (I have a few bottles). I didn’t find anything “Asian” about it in terms of flavor. I really enjoyed the oaky undertones, which for a light rum is unique–it had some fruit, spice, and leather as well. It’s not as dry as the Spanish style column still rums you mentioned, so if that’s what folks are looking for, then I agree it will have an uphill climb. That said, I think the roundness you noted is an asset that can help bridge the gap between white and brown spirits–something marketers are always trying to finagle. Time will tell if $20 is too much–for me it’s not, but I’m a rum nut. Cheers

    • drinkspirits

      Josh. Thanks for your comments and your take on the rum. For us it’s the grassy straw element as well as a tamarind note that has us putting it in the Asian category of rum. I agree, it’s nice to have a rum that isn’t as dry as the spanish style, but again $20 is an impossible price point in the silver rum category.

  • Yolanda Cleare

    Sounds like you work for Bacardi. LoL.

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