The ‘Emperador’ rises again

September 28, 2021

Dr. Andrew Tan, chairman of Alliance Global Inc., which owns the Emperador group.

One of the four skyscrapers in Madrid has the Philippine flag flying proudly in front of it. No, it is not the Philippine Embassy. It is a modern 230-meter tall building, now called Torre Emperador Castellana, owned by Filipino tycoon Dr. Andrew Tan’s Grupo Emperador.

According to Alliance Global Inc. CEO Kevin Tan, his father Andrew Tan, has always associated a bottle of brandy with celebrating an achievement, a milestone. Because when he graduated from the University of the East in 1974, Andrew’s father, pleased that his son completed his education despite the family’s limited means, allowed his son a rare treat: a small get-together at home with a bottle of Fundador.

It is said that when Tan was mulling over a name for the brandy that he was building in the Philippines, he asked a friend for suggestions. At first, the friend suggested “Conquistador.” After sleeping over it, Tan thought that “Conquistador” connoted takeovers and alluded too much to a colonial past. The friend then suggested, “Emperador.”

Thus was born Emperador Brandy, the “emperor” that conquered the world of brandy. Tan decided to go a step further. He wanted to celebrate his business’ success with Fundador — not just with a bottle this time, but with casks and vineyards to go with it.

On Nov. 30, 2015, Tan’s Emperador closed a P13.8-billion agreement with Beam Suntory for the purchase of Bodegas Fundador and on March 2 the next year, the purchase was completed. Also in 2015, Tan purchased the Torre Espacio in Madrid.

The 230-meter Torre Emperador Castellana.

Now, one of Madrid’s skyscrapers will be known as Torre Emperador Castellana. It will be the new name of Torre Espacio, one of the four skyscrapers that crown the Madrid skyline. This iconic building has been owned since 2015 by Grupo Emperador, a holding company of Tan, producer of brandy and sherry wine and owner of a real estate empire in the Philippines and several prime assets in Spain.

In addition to Torre Espacio (now Torre Emperador), which he bought for almost 560 million euros, the Filipino group is the owner of Caleido, in Madrid, together with Grupo Villar Mir, and of Torre Diagonal, in Barcelona.

With a leasable area of 60,142 square meters, Torre Emperador Castellana carried out renovations worth 1.5 million euros last year to adapt its services to its clients. Among the tenants of the tower are several embassies, the Spanish Banking Association and the Emperador headquarters in Spain, among others.

The Philippine flag flies proudly outside Torre Emperador Castellana in Madrid.

Emperador has also the Dalmore whisky in its trove.

The Dalmore distillery is owned and operated by Whyte & Mackay, which is owned by Emperador Inc.

Tan said when his company bought the Dalmore Distillery, “Whisky was the second fastest growing spirits segment in the world next to brandy.”

This October, the Dalmore’s No. 6 Collection will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong as part of the company’s autumn sales series.

The Dalmore Decades Number 6 collection is a “once-in-a-lifetime selection of six exceptional single malt whiskies spanning six decades — ‘The Dalmore Decades’.”

‘The Dalmore Decades’ is Dalmore master distiller Richard Paterson’s personal selection.

“Each bottle marks a very special milestone in the brand’s history and has a unique story to tell, which I hope the lucky collector will enjoy with those closest to them — if the last year has taught us anything, it is that life is to be enjoyed now,” said Paterson in a Zoom press conference with Philippine media.

Since I’ve never had whisky, I asked Glenn Manlapaz, chief executive officer of Emperador International during the Zoom interview if Dalmore is a man’s drink.

His answer surprised me.

“I cannot name names, but I’ll let you in on a story. I was in Beijing and there were three ultra-famous female celebrities from China. Two of them are Chinese superstars. One of them is a Hong Kong superstar. And I can only say that they loved Dalmore so much that Richard and I, we finished at about 4 a.m. with them, but I think they continued on. Because they said, the Dalmore is such a fantastic tasting single malt.”

Richard Paterson added, “They said to us at the beginning that they were not very sure about whisky. I asked, ‘What are you not sure about?’ They said, ‘Well, you know, it’s always considered that a little bit heavy.’ I said, ‘Well, you must look at it the way that a woman selects a bag or a dress. She takes some time, she really does look at it.’ And we showed them. If it is 40 years old, you need to give it 40 seconds. Get to know it, do it slowly. And they did it slowly. They took their time to look and taste it in a manner which is the proper way. These women we met in China, they took their time, by taking their time, they discovered nuances and flavors that you’ve never seen before. But they picked up when we said, ‘Do you taste the chocolate orange? The marzipan’?”

Richard added, “There’s a lady called Karen Gillan, who’s a very famous actress in the US. She’s from Scotland, and she’s working in Hollywood. And we don’t work with her commercially, but because she likes the brand, she’s been drinking the Dalmore. She’s been sharing it on her social channels, she’s been sharing it with her friends (Gillan portrayed Avengers: Endgame (2019), which became the highest-grossing film of all time, from July 2019 to March 2021.) It’s not just about the white guys in Scotland, it’s about anyone, anyone can enjoy it.”

Andrew Tan didn’t want to name his brandy brand “Conquistador.” His choice of “Emperador,” however, was prescient. Because now, the “Emperor’s” flag flies not only in the distilleries of the world’s biggest brandy producer and one of the world’s top whisky producers — it waves proudly as well in front of a majestic building in Madrid for all to see!

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