When he talks about his professional wishes, Francisco Javier Sabat Gonzalo refers to “continue contributing to the cause of Cuban Light Rum”, as if it was a vital mission.
No such devotion has to produce strangeness, it is the result of more than thirty years researching and creating new rums and spirits, a lifetime dedicated to an industry that stands on the secrets of tradition.
The perseverance and quality of the work carried out by Francisco Sabat at the El Valle Industry (Pinar del Río), were recently recognized by the Regulatory Council of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) CUBA with the promotion to Cuban Rum Master, together with her colleague Noemí del Toro from Santiago de Cuba.
He was far from thinking that this would be possible, when he graduated in 1979 as a Bachelor of Chemistry. For 14 courses he was a professor of that specialty in the different teachings of the education system, although he acknowledges that he was always interested in applying his knowledge in some specific production.
“In 1988 I started working at the Guayabita del Pinar factory, and there I was passionate about the manufacture of aromatic drinks. In 1990 I started working as a Technologist at the El Valle Rum industry, which at that time was just beginning the production of refining rums for national consumption. ”
Sabat explained that they were given the task of making an authentic rum that represented the westernmost province of the country. They had to start creating the necessary old bases, with an incipient aging cellar of just 300 barrels.
“The first objective was to work the spirits and sole rums that would serve as the basis for the El Valle rums,” he recalled.
To meet what seemed ambitious at the time, he received training courses since 1990, with doctors Jorge Pérez Rafael and Oscar Quériz, among others, important for his training.
"We cannot forget Naveira and Márquez professors," he said.
The invitation to the II International Colloquium of the Cuban Light Rum, held in Santa Clara, was a decisive moment that marked a starting point in his aspirations.
“There I met the seven masters of the Cuban light rum and since then I have worked together with them, receiving a great help from everyone and specifically from the teachers César Augusto Martí Marcelo, my tutor, as well as the first teacher Juan Carlos González Delgado, the teacher Salome Alemán Carriazo and the teachers and aspirants linked to the production of the Santiago de Cuba Rum and the Perla del Norte Rum”.
Francisco Sabat explains that “as the characteristics of a region are decisive in the typicity of its rums, in the case of Pinar del Río, water gives it part of its bouquet. The technology applied and the making of the rum master complement the touch of distinction of a good rum”.
He defines a product of excellence for the perfection of the cane brandy: "All we do is to transform the venerated son of sugarcane into a work of art, a jewel of Cuban tradition."
His preparation was completed when five years ago he was named Aspiring Cuban Rum Master. Then, he began to receive special training in the Santa Cruz Del Norte rum industry, in the Cárdenas rum industry and distillery, as well as in the Central Rum Industry. Also, he received courses taught by eminent teachers.
The talent, study and hard work were now rewarded with the possibility of integrating the demanding selection of the ten Cuban Rum Masters.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the people who have somehow made it possible for me to obtain such a high distinction.
Obtaining this category is the most important thing that can happen to a rum maker; it means the recognition of the work done during the middle of my life and in turn constitutes a very big challenge and a lifelong commitment to fight relentlessly for the quality of the Cuban Light Rum”.
The work does not end, Francisco Sabat's main project at this moment is to achieve the consolidation of the El Valle and Arecha brands in foreign markets, as well as obtaining the D.O.P. Cuba for both brands.