Tanduay Superior Rum (Aged 12 years)
Review: Tanduay Superior Rum 83.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 8, 2012
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, and is currently one of the largest rum producers in the world. In fact Tanduay Rum is regularly listed alongside Bacardi Rum as the two best-selling brands of rum in the World. The reason I had never heard of Tanduay until about five years ago is simply because almost all of their rum sales occur in Asia where Tanduay is the most popular brand.
According to the Tanduay Website, all of their rum is produced from four main ingredients, distilled alcohol (from sugar cane molasses), demineralized water, sugar, and a rather nebulous term, ‘other ingredients’. The website explains that the distilled sugar cane molasses is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years for all their brands, after which it is blended with the aforementioned water, sugar, and those ‘other ingredients’. The Tanduay Superior is labeled as a 12-year-old rum produced by Tandauy Holdings for their domestic market. This 12-year-old rum is considered ‘the cognac’ of rums by Tanduay and is the most premium ‘production rum’ in their current portfolio.
My good friend Lance, who also reviews rum on his website, Liquorature, supplied me with a sample of Tanduay Superior from which I was able to cobble together this review.
In the Bottle 4/5
Overall I like the presentation of the Tanduay Superior Rum. We have the typical ‘bar room’ style bottle that sits 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 labeling is simple but not unattractive.
In the Glass 8.5/10
The rum displays itself as a rich bronze coloured spirit. When I tilt the rum glass and twirl it, a thick deposit of rum is left clinging to the inside of that glass. It only very slowly releases fat droopy legs. Since I know sugar (and ‘other ingredients’) are added to the rum before bottling, the colour and the display of fat legs means very little as far as interpreting quality.
When I initially brought the rum to my nose I noticed caramel and molasses rising with a good dose of oak and baking spices thrown in for good measure. The amount of wood that I detect is a good sign. My fear was that those ‘other ingredients’ would be dominating the rum, but to be perfectly honest the nose of the rum does not seem to carry any untoward scents and aromas.
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, and overall I like what I sense. My feeling is that tasting the rum is going to be a very pleasant experience.
In the Mouth 50/60
The Tanduay Superior is a little dryer in the mouth than I was expecting with the caramel sweetness I noticed on the nose taking a bit of a back seat to pungent oak spices and the lightly bitter flavours of toasted walnut and coconut. There is a nice gentle sweep of vanilla which runs through the rum as well. When I allowed the rum to breathe in my glass I was greeted by some additional smoothness, as well as new flavours of cocoa and tobacco which have probably been there all along, I just needed to take my time to tease them out.
As I usually do, I mixed this rum in a few bar drinks. I tried the rum with a splash of Frangelico in a cocktail I call the Monk’s Uncle. I also mixed a little with cola and lime in a Cuba Libre’ . There was a light bitterness in both cocktails which tasted rather odd. Once I noticed this off-note, I seemed to be haunted by it every time I tasted the rum afterwards, even when I was sipping it neat. It is as if the flavour of the rum is just out of balance, and this discordant note is keeping me from scoring the rum more favourably.
In the Throat 13/15
The rum has a long dry finish filled with charred flavours of caramel (treacle), toasted walnut and a beautiful cocoa fade. The finish makes the experience worth repeating.
The Afterburn 8/10
The Tanduay Superior is a decent rum. It has a dryness which to me is very similar to the Flor de Cana rums of Nicaragua (I happen to love those rums). The flavour profile runs a little to the left of the sweet side of the palate, and in fact, there is a light bitterness in the flavour which seems to be related to impressions of toasted walnut and cocoa which I found as I sipped. Had I not experienced that unexpected off-note in my cocktails (which afterwards I noticed even when sipping neat), I may have scored this rum quite a bit higher. But that is why I taste my spirits more than once and in different formats before I complete my review. The off-note is there, and for me, it diminished the rum.
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)