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Maestro Ronero Nelsón Hernandez shares more than his love for rum. He also shares his strong devotion for his country, his culture, and his community. “Expertise, patience, and passion are necessary to be a Master Ronero,” shared Nelsón. “because the important thing is not to do what you love, but to love what you do.” Nelsón’s commitment to be the image of his whole team, fills him with pride to represent those grains of sand that each team member contributes to the final product. Together, they all shine. 

Nelsón Hernandez, in addition to being passionate about distillation, and having immense pride in his work and team, also stands out in his role as an educator. He teaches how rum is prepared in different parts of the world and shares his passion for his craft and his product. “It is not just selling products. We sell Brand-Country, name, values, idiosyncrasy…” said Nelsón.

Diplomatico 12Nelsón went on to explain, “Our business model is closeness. It is familiarity. It is direct contact. We like to be known. To be seated at this table and show who we are.”

Passion is one of the biggest values that ​​he shares with all those who meet him. Despite having had only fifteen years on the market, Diplomático Rum has been within the top 10 international TRIM Magazine for seven years. The International TRIM Magazine selects 50 bars in the world and the 10 best brands with the most impressive sales and trends. “Being there among companies with great experience makes us wonder how we got there,” said Nelsón. “It is because of the quality of our product and our business power.”

Before Nelsón became Diplomático Rum’s Maestro Ronero, he was a mechanical engineer. In 1979, his first professional experience was in the oil industry.  Then, an opportunity arose for him in his hometown. A distiller needed someone to take care of the plant’s total maintenance. He applied for the job and was selected to run the plant. 

“When you work in the maintenance area, you need to know all the processes and equipment involved in the process,” explained Nelsón. 

At the time of Nelsón’s employment, Sigra, the number one Canadian company in the world, served as the founding member of the distillery. The strict quality control that characterized each step in the process impressed Nestor. He began to get involved with distillate, learning about distillates.

In 2002, a new administration took over the distillery and strengthened quality control. The new owners already had experience in the alcoholic beverage industry. Under the steady helm of the new management, the distillery became Destilerias Unidas, SA (DUSA). Today, the company has nine top-of-the-line products. DUSA became a 100% family-owned and 100% national company that opened many doors by leading with heart, compassion, and dedication.

From raw materials to bottling, everything at DUSA is made in-house. The company is a factory in which a family is a team. Within this family, all medical service is free, including medicines. There is a free dining room. There is free transportation. DUSA provides direct support to the community with medicine, transportation, and environmental education. Although Venezuela has its difficulties, DUSA considers the well-being of the family, and that makes them different from their competitors.

We asked Nelsón about the history of Diplomático Rum, and his main inspiration Don Juancho. “Don Juancho was a successful nobleman among the sugar cane world. He was born in Vzla and the son of Spanish parents. He was a Mantuano. He supported the development of the community and he loved to travel. He was also famously a lover of rum and when he arrived he shared his favorite alcohol with his friends.”

The name “Diplomático Rum” comes from the fact that people remarked that “Juancho travels so much that he looks like a diplomat.” Don Juancho had a very exclusive reserve at his house and people always commented about his legacy and how he has been a positive influence. The name Planas represents how Don Juancho helped in the development of the Planas region. Don Juancho is a significant part of Diplomático Rum’s philosophy.

You can visit https://rondiplomatico.com/ to learn more about their products. 

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Jassil, the first woman to become Maestra Ronera for Brugal and the youngest Master of Rum in the industry, grew up listening to her family tell the story of Ron Brugal. She has always known that she was a part of his legacy. When she realized that she could make a career in rum, she became fascinated with the industry. With a skilled nose and refined palate, Jassil began acting on her fascination and training as a “Maestra Ronera”. (Master of Rum) 

In a recent interview, we asked her about continuing the legacy for Brugal Rum, and Jassil said, “Becoming Maestra Ronera gave me the opportunity to open new doors in the spirits industry for women of my generation and of future generations to enjoy the wonderful world behind rum creation. It has also given me the opportunity to honor and be part of the legacy of the Brugal brand.”

“At the same time,” continued Jassil. “It’s difficult and intimidating to combine tradition and innovation because it’s a big responsibility. It requires originality and confidence to take risks while respecting the history of “the process…” It’s a welcome challenge because I’m doing something I love.”

Creating a product with positive international reception also feeds into Jassil’s love for her craft. “I have been able to create great products that people love and admire globally, and have been able to represent my country, Dominican Republic, with indescribable pride,” said Jassil. 

After creating Brugal 1888, Jassil has another accomplishment of which to be proud. The current Maestros Roneros, including Jassil, created Brugal 1888 in honor of their ancestor’s innovation and long-established goal to create quality rum.  The rum benefits from the skills and expertise passed down through five generations of the Brugal family Maestros Roneros. 

“There are secrets that are to this day still kept in the hands of the family rum masters,” teased Jassil. 

Brugal Family 1Brugal 1888 Doblemente Añejado is a rum that is produced in the Dominican Republic. It is created by combining the full flavors of bourbon and sherry casks through a double-aging process. The double-aging technique, though usually reserved for high-end, single malts, allows consumers to sip Brugal 1888. The smooth, balanced rum also has notes of vanilla, red fruits, and toffee intertwined with cocoa and natural oak spice. Finally, a long-lasting aftertaste leaves a desirable hint of honey that is both elegant and divine. 

Brugal 1888 inspires consumers to reimagine their favorite stirred, spirit-forward cocktail. They can discover a Rum Negroni or Old-fashioned with a memorable and distinct taste. Or rum enthusiasts can enjoy the spirit neat to stimulate their senses and witness how the rum evolves in the glass.

Screen Shot 2021 08 20 at 8.15.09 PMAccording to Brugal’s website, Don Andres Brugal Montaner had one idea when he moved to the Dominican Republic. He dreamed of perfecting the art of rum-making. In 1888, Don actualized that dream by creating the Brugal company and thus the Brugal legend.

Five generations and nearly 130 years later, the Brugal Family continues to craft the $40 rum. Only family members become Maestro Ronero. Jassil Villanueva Quintana and Gustavo Ortega Zeller currently hold the honor of living out their family legacy.

Jassil, what do you enjoy the most from all the processes as Maestra Ronera? 

As a Maestra Ronera, I am involved in all aspects of the rum making process but most of my focus and work is within the Ageing and Formulation of Brugal. Quality cask and wood is so important for the development of Brugal rum’s flavor so overseeing this and inspecting quality is a key part of my role that I really enjoy. Also leading the development of new products and trying to create new flavors through the combinations of casks and blends is a really rewarding part of the role.  

How do you differ from other Master Rum Makers? What qualities should a successful Maestra Ronera possess?

Maestros Roneros is the name given to Brugal’s Master Rum Makers,  every rum master should have as a member of the Brugal family.

 To be a Brugal Maestro Ronero independently for being a member of the family we need to have sensory skills, a deep knowledge of the products based on the development of the senses, as well as an excellent gustative capacity to define the mixtures in the elaboration of the rums. It is an art that requires great talent, dedication and passion for the world of rum.

What do you think are the new challenges into creating new spirits? 

One of the challenges for new generations in the rum industry is to keep the spirit of innovation and creativity that characterizes our industry alive and to continue sharing a passion and appreciation for the craft of rum making with the world.

In the case of Brugal, the 5th generation of Brugal Maestros Roneros continue to work on developing new products for the years to come. The best contribution we can make is to add our own personal touch and continue to serve as role models and advocates for rum and the generations to come. That is the most important legacy we will leave.

Where do you see the Rum industry today and in the future?

I believe the Rum Industry is permanently in search, and attentive to the emergence of new business opportunities, and tries to foresee the changes that lie ahead. Helping us with the knowledge, experience, capacity and common sense necessary to make good decisions is what anyone needs today and, in the future, to continue making this spirits category full of innovation where brands such as Brugal offer a unique involvement to consumers by adapting the experiences and profiles of rums to the new trends.

What’s coming up for Brugal, anything you can share with us?

There are a few exciting things planned over the next few months, but you’ll have to wait and see! 

For more information about Brugal 1888, visit their website at Brugal-rum.com and follow their journey on Instagram (@brugal1888rum). You may also find updates on Twitter @ronburgal_es , Facebook Ronbrugalrd, and Youtube Brugal Rum USA  

*Images credit Brugal 1888*

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Adrienne Nascimento – Tea Master:

Photo credit: Anna Barnat

Tea Mixoloxist, Yoga Master and Co-founder of Admari Tea Adrienne Nascimento, tell us about her journey into the Tea World.

Adrienne, When does your love for tea begun?

AN: I left the hospitality industry in 2006 when I opened up my brick and mortar tea shop, Admari Tea, in Northern New Jersey. The long and late hours were having a detrimental effect on my relationships and quality of life, so I turned to what I love most in the world. Tea.

Early on in life, at 7 years old, I fell in love with the intoxicating aroma of tea. I can thank both my grandmothers for their influence on my earliest introduction to tea. I would bury my nose in my maternal Grandmother’s box of White Rose and deeply inhale the sweet tea scent. My paternal grandmother used to take me to Chinese and Japanese restaurants in New York frequently, where I was exposed to drinking different types of tea and tea rituals. 

As enamored I was of tea, my immediate family was a coffee family; my father is in the coffee industry as a green coffee commodities broker and coffee business consultant. I grew up learning about coffee, not just as a beverage, but as a plant which helped me to understand the intricacies of tea.

By the time I was a teen in the 1990’s I was drinking Chinese green tea regularly to fuel my days of dancing and performing (I attended a performing arts high school and was a dancer on Club MTV). Tea gave me a more focused energy for my busy life than coffee did. 

While in college in New Orleans, I started a yoga practice and witnessed that the way I feel after yoga practice was how I felt after drinking tea. The first seed was planted that perhaps the tea was more than just a beverage. Maybe there was something deeper.

In my 20’s, because of a career in the NYC restaurant industry, I developed a taste for Japanese green teas and started to see parallels between wine and tea. In 2003, as managing partner of a Wine and Martini Lounge in Ohio, I created my first loose leaf tea menu as well as built an elegant cocktail menu using fresh fruit purees and made all our syrups in house. 

In 2007, I opened a brick and mortar tea shop, Admari Tea in Northern New Jersey and became certified with the Specialty Tea Institute. We began a tea education series; one of the more popular workshops was, “Not Your Grandmother’s Tea Party” where we shared tea cocktails and explored using tea in cuisine. 

Most recently, I was able to blend past and present career and win the Tea Mixology category at the US Tea Masters Cup in Las Vegas. I will go on to compete against 22+ countries for the Tea Masters Cup World Title. 

As my tea path unfolded, so did my yoga path. In 2014, I completed my first 200-hour teacher training and in 2019, I earned my Yoga Acharya (Master of Yoga) in the Sivananda lineage. I recognized the calm awareness I develop through my yoga and meditation studies is further enhanced by my tea studies and practice of tea. It’s a natural partnership – tea and meditation. Tea is liquid meditation.

Why did you decide to move to Sunshine state?

AN: To be closer to my immediate family and to thrive in the sunshine. I am much happier in warm climates.

How do you feel about the Tea culture in Miami?

AN: I am thrilled with how people are responding to Tea here in Miami. When I first moved here, I was warned by many people that Miami was going to be a difficult place to introduce tea; its hot and coffee is ingrained into Miami’s culture. But if you look at it, cafecito culture is simply a different kind of ritual. Rituals translate when introduced properly. And as our Miami society grows more mindful of their consumption habits, tea is a natural addition to a healthy lifestyle. 

You recently won the US Tea Master’s cup. How do you prepare yourself for the World title?

AN: It was exhilarating! I am not a traditionally competitive person so this was an interesting and new experience for me. I was thrilled to bring a bit of the 305 with me with my competition cocktail, Miami Masala Chai. Even my soundtrack brought that sunny Miami vibe.

I am working on a Tea Mixology book, so that is helpful for my preparation for competition. I am doing a lot of research and have product development kitchen hours each week where I play with different ingredients and liquors. The key is to really bring out the tea highlights in the cocktails, which can be challenging when dealing with alcohol. 

As we draw closer to competition time, I will set up a practice stage in my house and spend a few hours each day practicing. 

How does Adrienne describe a good cup of Tea?

AN: A good cup of tea is one that inspires you to reflect and remember. A good cup of tea will remind you to breathe. 

What’s the best way or ritual to drink your Tea?

AN: There is no best way! There is only your way. During the course of the day, I will drink tea in a number of ways. I always start my day in quiet contemplation preparing gongfu cha (tea made with skill) usually using a gaiwan (lidded cup), a gong dao bei (fairness pitcher) and a small cup. This preparation involves short multiple steepings. For me, it is a moving meditation and a great way to move into my days. 

Then perhaps in the afternoon I will prepare matcha, or a matcha latte or steep a pot western style of tea.

Tell us about Admari Tea on your own words, is it a brand? a movement?

AN: Admari embodies the spirit of the ritual of tea while honoring the body and mind with creativity, innovation, and nature. More than just exceptional tea, Admari is a lifestyle brand influencing modern American tea culture through curated teaware, tea education, tea mixology, and tea-infused wellness events.

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