Tawandang fully-automated whisky distilling plant in Chai Nat.
Tawandang fully-automated whisky distilling plant in Chai Nat.

Automated distillery eyes 10% of liquor market

Corporate June 27, 2017 01:00

By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
THE NATION

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A TECHNOLOGICALLY advanced, fully automated distillery established late last year in Chai Nat province by a group of executives of Carabaodang aims to have a 10-per-cent share of Thailand’s Bt100-billion liquor industry by the end of next year.



The founders of the Tawandang 1999 Co plant in Chai Nat’s Hankha district revealed recently that they personally invested Bt3 billion to build one of Asean’s most state-of-the-art distilleries.

They believe the distillery will support Thailand’s potential to become a regional hub in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, thanks to plenty of raw materials that can be sourced locally at reasonable cost – especially bagasse from sugar cane, as well as rice and corn – a strong support industry, including packaging and bottling, and modern management, equipment, and production technology.

The only serious competitor in the region is Vietnam.

The distillery uses innovative methods to produce alcoholic products that appeal to Thai consumers around the country. The executives expect to secure a 10-per-cent share of Thailand’s Bt100-billion liquor industry, excluding beer, by the end of 2018.

Of the total liquor industry, about Bt80 billion worth is the rice-whisky market, which grows by 2-3 per cent per annum.

Sathien Setthasit, chairman of Tawandang 1999 Co, the manufacturer and distributor of Thai liquors such as rice whisky, rum, brandy and others, said the company was a joint venture of groups of Carabaodang executives with experience in running a successful energy-drink business.

Tawandang plans to branch out into other segments of the spirits industry after plumping for the whisky market as its initial business goal. The new distillery, however, is not part of the Carabao Group, the listed manufacturer of Carabao energy drink.

He said the company had invested Bt3 billion to build one of the most technically innovative, fully automated distilleries in Southeast Asia. The distillery, which is known as a “factory resort”, is on an 816-rai (130.5-hectare) plot in Hankha district.

The factory began operating last October, but its rice whisky did not become available in the market until two months ago.

With plenty of greenery in its compound, the factory is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for fermentation, distilling and production using expertise from Europe, North America and Asia. The distillery’s production is fully automated and relies on a team of whisky masters with 30 years’ experience in liquor fermentation.

The company claims the distillery is the most modern in Asean, and has a production capacity of 150,000 litres per day. The company says it launched 28-per-cent, 30-per-cent, 35-per-cent, and 40-per-cent abv [??] rice-whisky products respectively [??] under the Tawandang brand last month to a warm reception from consumers and retail stores around the country.

The launch of these products was the result of existing marketing opportunities in the domestic rice-whisky market that lacks new manufacturers and distributors who can offer alternative-quality whiskies to consumers at the grass-roots level, the biggest group of consumers.

“We will be able to cover 40 per cent of the 200,000 existing retail outlets selling liquor products. We want to achieve 90-per-cent retail coverage by the end of this year,” said Sathien, adding that the company aimed to increase the number of retail outlets in its network to 300,000 by next year.

“Within three years, we will be able to expand our production to cover all liquor segments, which will include whisky, rum, brandy, and other alcoholic beverages,” he said.

For its marketing strategy, Sathien said Tawandang would focus on below-the-line marketing to raise awareness of the newly launched rice whiskies among consumers and whisky retailers.