Tawandang Distillery belongs to the Carabao Tawandang Company, which also owns the popular Carabao Energy Drink, and is one of the company’s latest forays into expanding its share of the alcohol market.
The firm launched what it claims to be the biggest and ‘most-advanced’ spirits distillery in South East Asia in 2023, and told FoodNavigator-Asia about big plans to take on existing big players in the alcohol market.
“The standout characteristics of our products go all the way down to the ingredients as well as the processing – one of the biggest benefits is that consumption of these will give less of a hangover than regular liquors,” Carabao Tawandang Marketing Manager Manop Bumroongchart told us.
“The secret here lies in Thailand’s famous jasmine rice which we use as an important base ingredient – we also scorch this jasmine rice as part of the production process.
“What results from this is alcohol that is not only lower in cost due to us using local ingredients, but also gives consumers much less of a hangover after a night of drinking.”
Jasmine rice is a major ingredient in many of its products, from its signature Tendo whiskey touted to be the ‘First and Only Thai Whiskey’, to its Khao Hom Thai Vodka and Tae Yang Soju.
“We have also aspired to incorporate all the best techniques in our liquor production, for instance Tendo is made via the same process that Suntory’s Hibiki whiskey is made – just that we use Thai jasmine rice instead of Japanese rice,” he added.
“Right now we are seeing that a lot of these liquors are on-trend including whiskey and brandy so we are looking more closely here, and have also been exporting to some other countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.
“Soju was really popular during the pandemic because a lot of people were stuck at home watching Korean dramas, so in 2023 there has been a bit of a downwards trend, but because we are making our soju with Thai jasmine rice we have an advantage based on lower cost and more abundant ingredient availability.
“Many of our formulations and processes are close to those used by big players, such as how Tendo emulates Hibiki, but with the Thai jasmine rice advantage our hope is that this will help us to take increasing amounts of market share moving forward [especially] given current economic considerations.”
The firm’s sister company Tawandang German Brewery also launched a range of five beers late last year under the Carabao and Tawandang brands, looking to compete with existing local beer market leaders such as ThaiBev’s Chang and Boon Rawd Brewery’s Singha as well as imported brands such as Carlsberg and Heineken.
That said, the firm still faces significant challenges in the face of strong competition from existing big players, as well as an unexpected difference in tastes across the country.
“What we have found quite difficult is to meet every occasion and demand as we have seen that each part of the country has very different preferences,” he said.
“For instance, we are seeing that most consumers in Central Thailand are demanding more whiskey, but those in North Thailand are demanding more vodka.
“That said, what we are confident about for the alcohol industry we are in is growth for sure moving forward.”