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IV Technical Scientific Colloquium on Rum, 2016

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By Luis Rondón Paz.

The Fourth Technical Scientific International Symposium on Light Rum, held in Varadero-Cárdenas 2016, introduced us the specialist from the Rum Factory of Santa Cruz, Engineer Salomé Alemán Carriazo, officially awarded last May 24 Master of Cuban Rum. The first Cuban woman in 150 years in the history of the Cuban Rum awarded with this title. For Master Salomé, this a challenge and a responsibility, said on Friday May 27 to the press team of Cuba Ron, with her voice affected by emotion.

CR: Salomé, tell me about your beginnings. What did you study?

SAC: I studied Chemical Engineering at the CUJAE. I finished in 1988, and from that moment I joined the Rum Factory of Santa Cruz, for social service and, well, I am here since then.

CR: When did the project or the idea of running for Master of Rum emerged?

SAC: It really was a first attempt in early 2000, as the Movement of Masters were seeking alternatives to the introduction of women who had to do with the specialty. But at that time for various reasons, that did not work and I didn´t enter, no woman actually did. Then in 2010, it is when I am proposed from the direction of Cuba Ron to join the Movement as Master Aspirant. At that time there was already a female partner who had entered the movement.

CR: We are in 2016. What does Salomé feel to be seen as the first woman in more than 150 years that gets the distinction of Master of Cuban Rum?

SAC: Well, the distinction of Master of Rum itself, as well as the status of Master Aspirant are valid the two. I think it is the greatest recognition as a professional that someone may have. Because the Master category involves a fairly broad spectrum; not only a professional curriculum, but a whole series of conditions and attributes of responsibilities, demonstrated regarding the care of Rum values. Not only to its development; but custody of all the elements that comprise it and the processes leading to completion as such. It is a really great honor, from the point of view of gender, despite not having officially a woman in 150 years within the Movement, I say official because in a real way, women have been around forever. One way or another, women have always been related to the world of Rum, although as a category, as a recognition, it is the first time. It also is a responsibility for what you stand, for everything that it takes, for all you have to do, and depending on what you were since you started as a Master Aspirant to the end of your life.

CR: How many female Master Aspirants are there on the Island?

SAC: Well, until yesterday there were five, now there are four because I changed of category. There are two in Santiago de Cuba, one in the central region, and one in the Rum Factory of Cardenas, who was the first one that started as Master Aspirant.

CR: Salome, tell us about Master of Rum relationship, engagement with the Cuban producer and what you think of the History of rum.

SAC: The History of Rum is real, is a complex history, full of many details, filled with many vivid elements, it is a deep history. That just is, let us say, one of the pillars of the Movement. The Movement of Masters of Cuban Rum has within its major aspects; taking care of this history which for so long has been lived and moved that today the Masters´ knowledge constitutes cultural heritage of our country. That implies responsibility. Rum was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1862 approximately and from there was a transit, a shift from those places to the west. Each of these transit stages of the movement, of transformation of what the first rum was to what it is the current Cuban light rum, is full of those nuances of history, experiences, all knowledge that these people added to transform what was originally tafia into the Cuban light rum. While knowledge passed from generation to generation at all times; so it did all the technological framework that is behind this drink, as doing it it's not as simple as mixing things. That is to say, it is mixed after you have what has been achieved with great technique, very patiently, very expected. All these create chapters in that history that has occurred around rum production and therefore is one of the pillars of the Movement as I said. That's one of the things we should take care of.

CR: Speaking of history, and the role of women in today's Cuban Rum, Could you elaborate on your presence throughout history?

SAC: I can speak in the same way that we express that rum is a blend of many issues of our identity, that same mix of social situations in our country also influences, leading us here. Women were present throughout. As I said earlier, for example, in the War of Independence, we had several outstanding women who participated and others that are perhaps not so renowned, but participated as well. The rum was present throughout this process of transformation from the Spanish colony, where Cuban women were also participant in that society. Throughout this process until our present life, Cuban women have been featured in all social transformations that have been taking place, and participant both in the construction of our country, which happens to be a country with a new life after 1959. In the revolutionary period women joined the society, and in the process, they began to participate in the production of rum. Not seen everywhere and talked about this though, women are present in all rum factories and increasingly involved in the production stages.

CR: Do you mean the entire production history of Cuban rum?

SAC: In history there have always been women linked directly to t rum, for one reason or another. That is why it is a privilege for me today represent Cuban women, because there are so many women who are anonymous, and well, I can be here now as a Master, but behind this first woman, there have been many women.

CR: What are your aspirations from this new responsibility, besides being a representative of women in this world of spirits in Cuba?

SAC: First, my aspirations are continue growing and learning because this is only the end of an era and the beginning of another. You can be a Master in many ways, since you enter the movement you already are master in many ways. First, because you are learning and you're delving into the whole experience of all those who are already experienced. Second, because you keep learning every day from each of the people working in these processes. But at the same time you transmit, I mean, the Master transmits from his formation and that's the beauty of the process, you learn, but also transmit. There is no need to wait ten years to start training to prepare people in a series of concepts and values to be transmitted, to be maintained. That preparation must be every day. Continue preparing myself to be a good Master, to honor the title that I have and the commitment of preparing future generations of Masters from the current professionals we have today in our environment because it does not necessarily have to be in the factory, but around us. That is a responsibility and is part of giving continuity to the custody of the traditions of the factories of Cuban Rum.

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