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Tanduay Superior Rum (Aged 12 years)

Review: Tanduay Superior Rum   85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 11, 2019

The origin of Tanduay Holdings Inc. can be traced to 1937 when The Manilla Wine Merchants Inc. was incorporated. This company was basically an amalgamation of several business interests, the important one for our discussion being the Manilla Steamship Company which held agricultural interests in the Western Visayas and had been producing rum (and other spirits) in the Philippines since at least 1893. In 1999, the Manilla Wine Merchants Inc. formally changed their name to Tanduay Holdings.

In 2013, Tanduay Holdings began its entry into North America by placing two new rums into the US market. At the time, Tanduay was one of the very largest Rum producers in the world. (The reason they were relatively unknown in North America is because their Asian rum is produced in the Philippines and was sold almost exclusively into Asia.) The launch featured their premium Silver, and Gold rums which I reviewed in 2013 and reassessed again earlier this year (here and here).

Although Tanduay has not yet established itself fully in the US market, their Asian sales have continued at a breathtaking pace. In fact by 2017, Tanduay had surpassed Bacardi as the top selling rum brand in the world (see here).

Tanduay Superior Rum is a more premium spirit which has been sold in my home Province of ALberta for some time now. It is produced from a blend of rums apparently aged for 12 years or more. According to the promotional materials I have been sent, the Superior Rum is meant to be meant enjoyed neat or over ice.

In the Bottle 4/5

Tanduay Superior Rum is housed in a typical ‘bar room’ style bottle which fits easily on my shelf with my other rum bottles. For bartenders (and guys like me), the bottle is easy to store, easy to hold, and of course easy to pour.

The label indicated that the rum is 12 Year Old, however as this rum is not available for sale in North America, I do not know whether this age statement confirms that the entire contents are 12 years old or more, or whether the age statement indicates some sort of average age.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The rum displays itself as a rich bronze spirit. When I tilt the rum glass and twirl it, a thick deposit of rum is left clinging to the inside of the glencairn. It very slowly releases fat droopy legs. During my earlier research in 2012, I found statement on the Tanduay website that indicate sugar (and ‘other ingredients’) are added to the rum before bottling. This means that both the colour and the display of fat legs means very little as far as interpreting quality. It very well could be that these are merely a reflection of added sugar and caramel colour.

When I brought the rum to my nose I noticed a good deal of caramel and molasses rising in the breezes along side a firm indication oak and baking spice. The firm oak presence is a good sign. My fear was that those ‘other ingredients’ would be dominating the rum, but the scents in the air do not appear to carry untoward artificial scents and aromas. There is perhaps a touch more caramel sweetness than I was expecting however. As the rum breathes, I notice a few things I hadn’t earlier, some orange peel spiciness is apparent and some toasted aromas of walnut and coconut. Tobacco scents are growing in the breezes.

I like what I sense in the merry little breezes, and my feeling is that tasting the rum is going to be a pleasant experience.

In the Mouth 51/60

Tanduay Superior Rum is dry in the mouth with a light caramel sweetness taking a back seat to more pungent oak and baking spices (nutmeg and allspice) and slightly bitter flavours of toasted walnut and coconut. When I allowed the rum to breathe in my glass I was greeted by some additional smoothness, as well as new flavours of vanilla, cocoa and tobacco which have probably been there all along, I just needed to take my time to tease them out.

As I continued to sip, I began to notice an off-putting bitterness which seemed to taste like charred caramel. Very small amounts of bitter caramel is often used to colour spirits to give each batch a consistent eye-appeal. I wonder if perhaps this is what I am tasting?

In the Throat 13/15

The rum has a long dry finish filled with charred flavours of caramel (treacle), toasted walnut and a cocoa fade. Lovely except for that light charred bitterness which creeps in at the very end.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Tanduay Superior is a nice rum. The flavour profile is dry rather than sweet and features a light bitterness which both dries and puckers the palate as you sip. Had I not experienced that unexpected off-putting bitterness of charred caramel during my tasting sessions, I may have scored this rum quite a bit higher.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


3 Responses to “Tanduay Superior Rum (Aged 12 years)”

  1. Jack said

    Hello. Looking through your rum reviews I did not see your analysis of Tanduay silver or gold. However, have you ever tasted them? I understand the superior would be…superior to them, obviously. I was simply curious to your opinion, as I value it highly.

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