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The Tale of Emperador Brandy – The Best in The World?

Ever heard of Emperador Brandy? After seeing a sign declaring Tanduay Rum the “best in the world” I was send on an odyssey of other “best”, or rather best selling drinks in the world. Jingo Soju is the best selling liquor brand, Snow the best selling beer, and Tanduay the best rum. Well, it turns out Emperador is the top selling brandy. Here’s the tale of Emperador Brandy, the best in the world…..

Emperador Brandy in the Philippines

When we talk about great brandy’s our initial thoughts take us to France. Of course though France do not make great brandy’s, they make fine Cognac. Cognac is to brandy what Champagne is to sparkling wine it is that simple.

But, if we go down this route and talk about great brandies then that would take us to Spain, aside from the Cognac of France, Spain makes the best brandy.

The Philippines were formerly a Spanish colony, hence why they are the only serious ru makers in Asia. Therefore it is no great shock that they would try their hand at taking brandy right?

Emperador Brandy
Emperador Brandy

Emperador Brandy in the Philippines

Whilst the history of Tanduay goes way back to colonial times, Emerador has a much more contemporary history. Amazingly considering it is the best selling in the world, Emperador as a product is pretty young.

Before 1990 the Philippines was apparently a barren wasteland when it came to the world of brandy, so Emperor launched as the first brandy product in the country. This turned out to be a rather smart move as it turns out that the Philippines really like their booze!

By 2006 Emperador was he top selling brandy brand in the world and by 2015 was selling 300 million liters a year. When you factor in that this is almost exclusively in the Philippines then you truly get some context.

Are there other variations of Emperador Brandy?

  • Emperador Light – You will see this next to regular Emperador and whilst it does have some kind of following is really not all that great. At only 27% it is really not worth it.
  • Emperador Deluxe – A 30% premium brandy bottled in Spain. I have honestly never seen Emperador Deluxe anywhere.
  • Emperador Solera Reservada – Another deluxe version of Filipino brandy you are unlikely to bump into at a house party.
Emperador Brandy
Different Emperador Bottles

Is Emperador Brandy the best in the world?

OK, so lets get a little technical here! The label of the Light variation identifies the product as “Premium BRANDY Liqueur”, rather than simply “brandy”. This is because they add other crap like sweeteners and sugar cane. By this definition it is not even really a true brandy – in fact it is more like a rum!

Taste wise it is also not all that great and you will need a lot of coke to make it palatable. I have never seen Emperador Brandy drank from a brandy glass on heated water. Just saying you know.

It is though the biggest selling by far. In the Philippines alone it accounts for 50% of the Filipino liquor market. There are 100 million Filipinos an they all really like a drink.

Fundador Brandy is actually owned by Emperador

Fundador is Spain’s oldest, arguably best and certainly most well known brandy. In 2016 Emperador cemented their place as the biggest brandy company in the world by purchasing Fundador.

In 2017 Fundador won various awards as the “best Brandy in the world”. So, whilst we might all agree that Emperador is not the best brandy in the world. The Philippines not only drink more brandy than anyone else in the world, but also arguably own the best brandy in the world. You can now see Fundador sold throughout the country.

The Cultural Impact of the drink!

You really cannot underestimate the cultural impact of Emperador Brandy, with it having both positive and indeed negative overtones. Filipinos truly love a drink and if you go to any party in the Philippines you will see the brandy pride of place on teh drinks counter.

There is though very much a class divide when it comes to the drink. This is the cheapest liquor in the Philippines, so it very much has working class overtones. This also makes it the drink of the alcoholic. Therefore if you do get invited to a party in the Philippines, and this regularly happens, bring Tanduay, rather than Emperador if you want impress your hosts.

Can you buy Emperador outside of the Philippines?

Not in all that many places, but Hong Kong and essentially anywhere else with a Filipino diaspora. I once purchased a bottle of Emperador in Palau and Majuro in the Marshall Islands.

What can you mix Emperador with?

I usually judge my soft drinks and indeed liquor by what they go with and indeed just quite how well they mix in general. Bai Jiu for example mixes well with basically nothing. So, how does Emperador fare here?

Well it is brandy, so the obvious go to is coke. When you are a party in the Philippines, mots people would be drinking it either neat, or with coke. It does OK with sprite as well, but if you really want to sex things up a bit then the most Filippino way to mix it would be Emperador Brandy and Sarsi! A lot better than it sounds to be fair.

And that is the tale of the best selling “brandy”, bot not the best brandy on the planet by any reckoning. Emperador we salute you!

Written by Gareth

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.

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