From its humble beginnings in a small distillery in Manila, to becoming one of the country's most respected brands, Ginebra San Miguel has solidified itself as being integral to the history and culture of the Philippines, and the story of the Filipino people. Ginebra San Miguel Inc. is proud to continue this heritage, learning from their flagship brand's resilience, perseverance, its never-say-die –spirit, and its adherence to time-honoured traditions of excellence.
GSMI is poised to take on the 21st century as a diverse, progressive, and constantly evolving company, bringing the heritage of almost two centuries of outstanding consumer products into the future. As its flagship brand Ginebra San Miguel celebrates over 180 years of embodying Filipino tastes and being part of traditions and celebrations, Ginebra San Miguel Inc. is proud to be an important part of the Filipino story.
Facing New Beginnings
1834 - 1902
Antonio Ayala and Domingo Roxas form the company that will eventually be called Ayala Y Cia. From their distillery at Distileria Licorea de Ayala emerged a juniper-flavored liquor which they called Ginebra San Miguel de Ayala, that was originally suited for the visiting Europeans and the wealthy Filipino elite.
With the growing demand for gin and other quality liquors, Ayala Y Cia acquired more advanced equipment from France, making distillation more efficient, thus making Ginebra San Miguel accessible to the Filipino masses. This was the start of the love affair between Ginebra San Miguel and the Filipino people.
Anacleto del Rosario, a renowned Filipino chemist, developed a formula to purify alcohol to give it a stronger body and smoother flavour, making it more appealing to elite and commoners alike.
Setting the Standards of Quality
1902 - 1941
The American occupational government enacted laws to regulate food and beverages to ensure that only the highest quality products would be produced. True to its tradition of excellence, Ginebra San Miguel was the only product deemed "pure" and "stainless", the highest distinctions of commercial products during that time.
With advances in brewing and bottling techniques, the Philippines started producing its own home-grown alcoholic products, creating a liquor market that will be dominated by Ginebra San Miguel. After over 80 years of garnering international acclaim, winning no less than ten international awards for excellence in over five different international expositions, Ginebra San Miguel wins the battle of the spirits in the Philippines by being the number one selling gin in sales.
La Tondeña, a distillery owned by Filipino-Chinese mestizo businessman Carlos Palanca Sr., purchased the Ayala Y Cia distilleries, expanding the distribution of Ginebra San Miguel throughout the entire country.
Involved in Nation Building
1941 - 1969
The La Tondeña facility was severely damaged after the war, but production and distribution of Ginebra San Miguel continued.
With the help of renowned Filipino architect Otilio Arellano, the La Tondeña facility reopens, putting operations back into full-swing and providing employment for the recovering population.
Carlos Palanca Jr., son of La Tondeña owner Carlos Palanca Sr., takes over operations of La Tondeña. By this time, La Tondeña revolutionized its production with the introduction of mechanized bottle washing, capping and crowning, and labelling. It was around this time that the famous flint and "cuatro cantos" bottles were produced, creating the signature look of Ginebra San Miguel.
During this time, the artwork of artist Fernando Amorsolo, who would later become the Philippines’ first National Artist for Painting, was used as the official logo of Ginebra San Miguel. The homage to Ginebra San Miguel’s namesake, St. Michael the Archangel, created an identity that remains as the most recognizable brand identity to this day.
With the success of Ginebra San Miguel, La Tondeña expanded its product portfolio with the introduction of other liquor variants including Añejo Rum and Rum Caña (1955), and Vino Kulafu (1957).
Reflecting the People's Aspirations
1969 - 1987
Ginebra San Miguel remains at the top of the market with its effective advertising campaigns associating it with strength and the principled values of the Filipinos. It reinforced its identity and became a brand showcasing the resilience of the people to rise above any challenges.
In its advertisements, it reflected the ideals of the Filipino people at that time – celebrating patriotism, peace and order, and redefining the "macho" image to include desirable working traits like industry, zeal, pride in one's work, perseverance, and love of country, an image that persists to this day. Among the popular taglines were “Ang Inumin ng Tunay na Lalaki,” “Ang Inumin ng Tunay na Pilipino,” and “Walang Katapat.”
Uniting the Filipino Spirit
1987 - 2003
In 1987, San Miguel Corporation, the largest food and beverage corporation in the Philippines, acquired La Tondeña Incorporada and renamed it as La Tondeña Distillers Incorporated (LTDI).
With the partnership, LTDI benefitted with San Miguel Corporation’s vast domestic and international distribution network.
As a move to further expand the business, LTDI would later forge an alliance with Maayo Holdings, Inc. to form Distileria Bago, Inc. (DBI), a distillery located at Bago City, Negros Occidental. In a few years, LTDI would gain full ownership of this distillery, ensuring continuous production and supply of high quality alcohol.
Bringing Heritage into the Future
2003 - present
LTDI was renamed Ginebra San Miguel Incorporated (GSMI) in 2003, as homage to the gin brand and its heritage. In keeping with the company’s heritage, new gin variants were introduced – GSM Blue, the smooth and sweet Ginebra San Miguel variant for entry level drinkers and Ginebra San Miguel Premium Gin for the upscale market.
Aside from growing its gin brand, the company expanded its liquor portfolio to include Gran Matador Solera Brandy (2003); Tondeña Premium Rum (2004); Gran Matador Solera Gran Reserva (2005); Antonov Vodka, Don Enrique Mixkila, and St. George’s Whiskey (2006).
GSMI entered into a joint venture with Thai Life Group of Companies in 2004 to form C.N.T. Wine and Liquor Company Limited (CNT) to put up a distillery and bottling plant in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. CNT was renamed Thai San Miguel Liquor Co., Ltd. (TSML) in 2007. Another business unit, Thai Ginebra Trading was formed to sell and distribute TSML’s liquor products in Thailand.
GSMI likewise acquired ownership of East Pacific Star Bottlers Phils. Inc. (EPSBPI) in 2012, which is engaged in the toll-manufacture and bottling of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The acquisition further expanded GSMI’s production capabilities with two new bottling plants in Albay and Isabela.
As competition in the hard liquor industry intensified, GSMI focused its efforts on aligning more closely with customers and consumers to further grow its markets. In 2015, GSMI introduced Primera Light Brandy to answer the growing demand for light alcohol variant.
Continuing the flagship brand’s tradition of excellence, GSMI received various international awards for its products during this period, including product quality excellence awards from Monde Selection, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, China Wine and Spirits Competition and the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
To this day, heritage brands Vino Kulafu and Ginebra San Miguel remain at the top of the market. Vino Kulafu is the undisputed market leader in the Chinese wine category while flagship Ginebra San Miguel continues its position as the world leader in the gin category.