Tanduay Risen: The Ascent Under El Kapitan

06:24 PM July 31, 2017

Makati City, July 31, 2017 – The year was 1988. Then already 130 years strong, more than a century of noble tradition could not save Tanduay from impending disaster. The business had fallen on hard times—crippled by outdated production methods and antiquated equipment, revenues were declining fast and the biggest rum producer in the country was nearing bankruptcy.

Since bottling was still being manually done at the only plant in Quiapo but demand was nonetheless high, cheap knockoffs of the rum became rampant in the market. Literally on the verge of collapse, troubles were mounting and there was no respite in sight for Tanduay’s dire financial situation. No one wanted in on the bleak scenario. No one, that is, save for a man called El Kapitan.


Changing the game: Dr Lucion Tan set out to modernize the various levels of production

Dr. Lucio Tan, one of the most accomplished individuals in the country and in the world, cannot say exactly who, when, or how the nickname was first used. We do know, however, that El Kapitan is a fitting tribute to an astute businessman, one unfazed by struggle and adversity. By July 1988, the LT Group acquired Tanduay Distillers, Inc. from Elizalde and Co. for P700 million, facing over P140 million in debt. As El Kapitan set about restoring the company’s fortunes and former glory, LTG settled all liabilities that same year.

Rolling up their sleeves to tackle the problems head-on, the new owners and management embarked on a journey to to improve production, distribution, and marketing. Tanduay had, since it was established, acquired the national reputation for high quality, and that wasn’t about to change. There was no way to go but up, and the transition, though fraught with challenges, was about to bring the enterprise to even greater heights.


Some of the modernization efforts of Dr. Tan included the purchase of new distillation tanks, and the installation of modern bottle capping and labeling machines.

Plant modernization and expansion projects doubled the distillery’s production capacity. From having only a few thousand oak barrels at the time of acquisition, the business immediately procured more from Kentucky, USA and now possesses the largest inventory of alcohol aged in barrels in the country. And to foil imitators, technologically advanced bottling equipment were obtained as well. Now, bottles came with a tamper-proof security seal to assure its generations of loyal followers that the stuff was genuine. All facilities also became ISO-certified, ensuring consumers of quality, efficiency, and food safety.

Some of the modernization efforts of Dr. Tan included the purchase of new distillation tanks, and the installation of modern bottle capping and labeling machines.

It has been a dramatic turnaround for Tanduay. Today, it is the second-largest selling rum on the planet, next to Puerto Rico’s Bacardi. What better proof that palates the world over have come to appreciate the exceptional taste of Tanduay than to have it distributed not only throughout Asia, but in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. But believe it or not, for LTG, this is only the beginning. Because the Filipino spirit has always been at the heart of Tanduay’s victory, the challenges may be many but the opportunities are greater still. And with sheer determination, we know that Tanduay can overcome.

About Tanduay Rum

Tanduay Rum is produced by Tanduay Distillers, Inc., the oldest among the subsidiaries under the wings of the Lucio Tan Group. It carries the distinction of being one of the biggest brands in the distilled spirits category and one of the world’s most decorated spirit brands. Tanduay Rum’s distinct taste and aroma is a product of over 160 years of heritage and expertise in making quality rum, recognized by experts all over the world.

Please visit or for more information.


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TAGS: Dr. Lucio Tan, El Kapitan, Tanduay Distillers Inc., Tanduay Rum
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