FELIX MATEO, Distillery & Environmental Affairs Director atClub Caribe Distillers
By Jose Hoffmann
1. Who is Félix Mateo?
Natural of Juana Diaz, P.R., and grew up running thru the Sugar Cane Fields of the town. Studied and graduated from the UPRM, Colegio de Mayaguez, BS in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Holds a License in Chemistry and Professional Engineering.
As a young process engineer started working in the Oil Refinery in Penuelas, PR in 1975, and after the Oil industrial complex was closed in 1979 started working in Bacardi, Catano, PR until retiring in 2009.
Held various positions in Bacardi, Distillery Director, Master Distiller, Rum Blender, Environmental Director, and Plant Manager of Bacardi Limited, Nassau Bahamas. From 2012 to the present, Distillery Director for Club Caribe, PR and Florida Caribbean Distillers, Florida.
2. What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
Rum for me is what I call “Medicine for the soul” you drink it with the responsibility to relax, take care of the daily stresses of life. I fell in love with Rum as I grew up running in the cane fields, with the smell of the cane, cane juice, and all these aromas are connected to Rum.
3. Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.
The aroma of Molasses, Oak and Vanilla Flavor.
4. What is the most important contribution you have made in the rum industry?
My most contribution to the Rum Industry, especially to the PR Rum, has been to able to produce a record of equivalent 15mm cases of Rum for the world in one year, introduced and implemented international standards like ISO 9000, Quality Management System, and FSCC 2000, Food Safety Standards to complement the quality standards of our industry. Served as consultant and advisor to different Rum facilities around the world.
5. Benefits that the rum industry has given you.
The benefits that the Rum Industry has given me are so many. It provided the well-being of my family and myself, I have been able to travel all around the world, knowing and working with different people and cultures.
6. What’s another thing you are passionate about, in addition to rum? Why?
One of my passions of researching and innovating new processes. I have been always a curious person and a good challenge of something new has always created that passion for making it happen.
7. What is your favorite place for drinking rum?
Definitely in my Boat, on a white sandy beach.
8. Favorite drink + Recipe
Rum and Coke. You have to add the correct amount of ice, you have to touch the ice with your finger from the top of the high ball glass.
9. Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?
It’s important because you must educate the consumer on how to distinguish a true Quality Rum due to all the gimmicks of Marketing that surround the industry.
10. Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?
To taste a good Rum is important starting with a good clean glass cup, a place free of off-odors such as perfumes, no ice or water, smell it first, ask yourself what it smells like: oak, vanilla, cherry, molasses, cane. Taste it what comes to your mind: sweet, woody, smooth, no after taste.
11. How can rum contribute to improving the crisis in some countries?
Rum contributes largely to countries’ monetary input from exportations and income from tourism, for those coming into the countries looking for the origin and local taste of their favorite Rums, creates jobs in different aspects of the economy.
12. Is the commitment to sustainable development the key to success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?
Like many other industries, the Rum industries are facing important sustainability issues and opportunities. Increased consumer demands for sustainably manufactured products are putting pressure on the industries to diversify for sustainability. This effort starts from the Distillery with efforts to reduce the usage of resources of water, power, reduce gas emissions, and environmental impact of byproducts.
13. Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?
The answer to this question for me is that I have had the privilege since I have worked for so many years in the industry of knowing and working with pioneers and Great Masters of Rum that sadly have passed away and I would say to them: thank you for your generosity of transmitting all your knowledge of many years of failures and successes.
14. What are your next goals in the rum industry?
My next goal is to create our next 8 year aged Club Caribe Rum.
15. Plans you have when you leave the rum industry
When I leave my plans are very simple to adopt another Dog for which I don’t have a lot of time to give at this moment due to traveling and go fishing.
16. Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?
Bartenders are extremely important, they are like a Doctor is to a patient, they are the ones who the consumer asks to recommend a drink, Rum and the Bartender prescribes his best choice.
17. What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?
Study the history, innovate yes, but don’t throw away all the knowledge from the past.
18. How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?
I am always available at [email protected]
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