It’s no secret the Philippines is the world’s largest gin market. According to the International Wine and Spirits Research, a leading source of data and analysis on the beverage alcohol market, we consume 22 million cases of gin per year. And in a 2018 report from the same group, gin sales in the country apparently logged an 8 percent growth, predicting a more substantial rise in numbers from year 2019 to 2023.
If there is any more indication you need regarding the Pinoy’s continuing love affair with gin, hear this: four new Philippine-made craft gins entered the local market in the last six months alone, including one from Ginebra San Miguel called 1834. The name comes from the year Ginebra San Miguel, its mother gin, icon of the Filipino drinking lifestyle, was introduced. Ginebra also happens to be the biggest selling gin in the world.
No wonder Lucio Tan’s young grandsons who are now heading Tanduay want a larger share of the gin market (Tanduay has Gin Kapitan and London Gin). The two, Lucio Tan III, president and COO, and Kyle Tan, executive Vice President, recently launched Ginto, which is geared for the “adventurous younger market of gin drinkers.” It is now available in Luzon where a large chunk of the country’s gin consumers are found. The drink has hints of citrus, juniper and berry with wood notes.
The overall taste is also thanks to the company’s barrel aging facilities which every bottle of Ginto claims to go through—this is proudly emblazoned on the label—and which is considered the product’s competitive edge.
Barrel aging the gin is supposed to give it that flavor of an aged spirit, akin to the flavors of caramel, oak, vanilla and smoke. Tanduay’s barrel aging facilities house 200,000 oak barrels with a capacity of approximately 40 million gauge liters. If it’s a little unclear what those numbers say exactly, just think it’s the kind of effect in a drink that will take others 25 years to replicate.
“Gin continues to be a popular choice among Filipinos. What we are offering the market is a fresh twist on a classic drink, a cross-category oak barrel-aged gin, blended in the same gold standard of craftsmanship,” says Lucio III. “But most importantly, we’re making it available to consumers at value price point.” A 600 ml bottle of the drink retails for a very affordable P125.00 in Lazada.
With drinks like Ginto and other new product concoctions, Tanduay says it is expanding its spirits portfolio. Lucio III credits their Research and Development team for being the “innovation engine” of Tanduay. “In the process of developing this product, they’ve led us to a realization that gin can produce a variety of flavors when aged in oak barrels. This is what makes us excited about the potential of this new product,” Tan says.
Lucio “Hun Hun” Tan III assumed the role of President and COO at Tanduay Distillers in 2020, following the passing of his father Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr in November 2019. He was 27 when he was appointed. Tan III has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. He was working as a software engineer at Lyft in the Bay Area before coming home to the Philippines to head Tanduay. He is also currently director at the LT Group, his grandfather’s publicly listed holding company, and Philippine Airlines.
Brother Kyle Tan, meanwhile, was a software engineer at Microsoft before assuming the EVP post at Tanduay. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Southern California where he also finished his Master’s degree in Computer Science.