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Tanduay Rum and Friends – the best rum in the world?

tanduay rum

Is Tanduay Rum the best in the world? Having been traveling and working around the Philippines for almost ten years it is fair to say that I have not only heard of, but have had my fair share of Tanduay Rum and indeed the many other fine products produced by the wonderful people at Tanduay (such as Tanduay ice – a Smirnoff Ice clone). Yet it was when I visited Cebu that I really started thinking about the product.

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“Tanduay Rhum the worlds best rum 4 years running”

On a billboard I saw a sign that boldly stated “Tanduay Rhum the worlds best rum 4 years running”. Now I like Tanduay a lot, but having lived for 3 years in the caribbean and considering myself somewhat an officado on all things rum, found this tone quite the statement. I do indeed like it, but best in the world I’m not quite sure about. Best rum in the Philippines, sure, best rum in Asia, probably as I can’t actually name another rum thats made here, despite all the sugar cane. The world though it really, really is not.

History of Tanduay Rum/Rhum

They trace their origins back to the 1850’s and unsparingly the Spanish, before morphing into the Tanduay Distillery, Inc in 1935.

Fast forward 80 odd years to now, and well Tanduay Rum is not only the national drink (maybe after San Miguel beer), but you can buy all different styles and vintages, as well as their own range of alco-pops known as Tanduay Ice (more on that later). Tanduay Ice is an obsession of mine. For the longest time flavors consisted of “white”, “red” and “blue” although they’ve since branched into non-colored flavours, such as cranberry, lemonade, and even a “light” version with less sugar. As usual I digress…..


It is not the best rum in the world

So, as to the rum itself and my ingrained snobbery (I used to live in the Cayman Islands). Tanduay Rhum is not the best rum in the world. It generally has a funny orange color when compared to the rums of the Caribbean, as well as a weak and even watery taste.

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I actually do like it though

I’m sounding like a hater, but that really is not the case, it is not without its charms. In fact some of the negatives, like it not being too overbearing make it a perfect easy summer drink. And lets look at the facts! A bottle of rum for $1 in the shops or $1.50 in a restaurant is pretty good value.


Apparently there’s even a Tanduay Rum USA! Well that’s what happens when you put an embargo on Cuba. Havana Club is actually the best rum in the world, sorry guys, but at least you’re still the best rum in the Philippines.

Tanduay Ice

What is Tanduay Ice? Originally it was the Filipino version of Smirnoff Ice, but has since expanded into being THE Alcopop of the Philippines. And I LOVE it!

Tanduay Ice and Friends

This though is a whole other bag of vegetables! The drink is obviously made by the fine folks at Tanduay Rum. The “white” flavor (we will get onto colored flavors later) is literally a direct rip-off of Smirnoff Ice. It is sugar, it is lime, it tastes like a soft-drink and it is booze! All the main food groups you need when hungover.

I remember being on a beach on Puerta Gallera and knocking my first ever one back in one go. It was hot, I was on a beach and with this drink, I was now in love.

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Tanduay Ice and Friends

Expanding the range

Following “white” they decided to expand the range. Next in line they brought out Tanduay Ice Red (Energy), Ice Blue (fresh), and Ice Yellow. It seems a little weird to name a drink after a color, but red really tastes red and blue tastes blue. I can’t really explain it better than that. Even when you order them, staff ask you what color you want! All rather amusing.

This was to remain the statues quo for quite a while and whilst no one complained the masses still wished that perhaps the guys here had something else up their sleeves, and a few years ago they again delivered.

The Latest Flavors

Now this is where I think the guys got all smart, there are only so many primary colours. I mean who is gonna order a “Brown”? So, they moved onto flavours! Namely Tanduay Ice Lemonade, which is extremely good and tastes like an American style lemonade and Tanduay Vodka and Cranberry which does a job Colour wise they are a lighter green and a darker red, for those traditionalists of you out there. There is also an Ice Apple, a darker green I guess that I also quite like. Sadly these ones are less available in bars, but you will find them at the 7/11!

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Tanduay Ice - New flavours

Jumping on the losing weight fad

Theres also Tanduay Ice light, which tastes bad, and Tanduay Ice Zero, which I hate. Yet I am quite the loyal traditionalist when it comes to these things! I therefore do appreciate that they have a rightful place on the Filipino drink scene.

And that is my love story with Filipino Ice’s. Yes it is a girly drink, but you try sitting a hot beach in the Philippines, drinking one and then tell me if you were refreshed, or not. I thought as much….


Update; This as one of my more popular blogs deserves an update when an update is due. It is now due! It would appear that whilst still not in my opinion the best rum in the world, It is often not only the best selling rum in the world (kinda tied with Bacardi), but also one of the best selling liquor brands in the world.

Now if this is screwing with your head get ready for more madness. it is is not even the top selling liquor in the Philippines, that prestige goes to Emperador Brandy, the THIRD best selling brand in the world. Yet this again leads us a bit down a rabbit hole of quality verses quantity. Did you know that Snow Beer is the best selling in the world? And it is TRULY putrid.

The truth well and truly is more crazy than fiction

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