Grand Marqués Rum Master Blender Calor Méndez

Published by The Rumlab ago about the Grand Marques company

Grand Marqués Rum Master Blender Calor Méndez article cover image

TRL: Who is Carlos Méndez?

My name is Carlos Méndez, I have been the Rum Master of “Grand Marqués” since three years ago in 2020, when Efrain Camacho (founder) recruited me to create a portfolio of products that can break through the rum category (just at the beginning of the pandemic), from the low-value segment to the premium segment through innovation and quality.

I have over 30 years of experience in the rum industry, in different operational roles, since the foundation of the San Javier Distillery (Venezuela) through the Fermentation, aging, blending, bottling, and Quality Control stages of the rum-making process.

TRL: What does the rum mean to you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

Everything rum is in my DNA. My father (Enrique Méndez) was one of the first and more relevant rum master blenders in Venezuela. He creates many flagship brands that now are in the most important bars or liquor stores around the world. He was my mentor and the main influence to get into this amazing industry. I grew up admiring and dreaming to become at least half of what my father was, so let’s say I’m following the steps of my hero.

TRL: Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.

· Respect: for the process and the liquid, if you take shortcuts or change the recipe to save costs, you definitely will lose your consumer and all the value

· Innovation: is mandatory to always be studying and trying new things (processes, materials, etc.), otherwise you will stay behind

· Versatility: rum offers a full range of consumption options according to the occasion, you can either drink it on the rocks, in traditional cocktails, or in straight-forwards mixology cocktails.

TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made to the rum industry?

I would say that the development of the San Javier Distillery, which to this day, after over 40 years, continues to be a reference for the production of the best alcohol in Venezuela.

TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

There are many benefits, but I would say that mainly the opportunity to team up with wonderful people, to continue building my father’s legacy, and the satisfaction of pleasing the palates of consumers.

TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about, besides rum? Why?

Another thing that I am passionate about is people being able to train and teach future generations who can make the rum category reach the place it deserves in each of the bars and liquor stores in the world.

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

There are many places that I like, but if I had to highlight one, it would be to watch the sunset after a hard day’s work.

TRL: Favorite drink + Recipe

My favorite drink is on the rocks. However, when I want to drink something different, my first choice is always “dark and stormy”, I just love the contrast of flavors.

Recipe: 1.5 ounces of “Grand Marqués Rum”, 2 ounces of ginger beer, and a brief splash of lime or lemon.

TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?

Mainly because of the number of wrong paradigms around the category, whether it is a drink for pirates or just for young people who want to party. Rum is much more complex and comprehensive than that, besides having a very rich history and manufacturing processes.

There are different rums, with different flavors and techniques. You could even create a university degree just to study rum, and it is important that the consumer knows about it, either by general knowledge or by being able to recruit him.

TRL: Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?

Yes, I would suggest:

– take a wheel of flavors and practice with its different references (sweet, bitter, citrus, or others) to create a sensory reference

– try 3-4 different rum and identify the differences between them, starting from less to more premium

– lastly, compare your favorite rums against other spirit categories (whisky, tequila, gin) in order to identify differences and preferences. This last exercise is usually extremely revealing and a significant change for rum, because consumers usually prefer rum when comparing between categories.

TRL: How can rum contribute to improving the crisis in some countries?

I’m convinced that rum is a generous drink and that it goes far beyond the simple fact of consuming it for a specific occasion. In the first place, it is an accessible category in terms of costs that generates a significant number of sources of employment through its value chain (logistics, customers, bartenders, vendors, etc.).

Secondly, rum as a category is resilient, it has gone through multiple difficulties that can be used as metaphors when facing difficulty. And thirdly, at least in Venezuela, the category works like a guild, where more than competitors we form a team, for example, I have excellent relations with other rum maters from other houses, and there is a genuine spirit of camaraderie and team spirit that it is incredible and it can serve as a reference to overcome crises in those places where it is most deserving.

Finally, I think that Venezuela, as a zip code, is already a sample of how rum can add to a country that has gone through multiple crises throughout history.

TRL: Is the commitment to sustainable development the key to success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?

Of course, as I previously commented, innovation is key, and that includes not only the formulation of liquids but also how the processes are developed, or the raw materials used in the products. It’s the duty of all human beings to make our environment a better place every day, and that includes the inclusion of better environmental practices and generating less pollution, which not only applies to rum but to all industries.

TRL: Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?

I would have liked to meet my grandfather, he died when I was not yet born, but my dad told me he already had some knowledge of the production of “aguardiente” (not aged alcohol), and I would have liked to ask him what motivated him and listen to his recommendations.

TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?

At Grand Marqués, we have just launched our first rum, and the plan is to continue building a portfolio of innovative and premium products that allow us to occupy a preferential space in the minds of our consumers, so stay tuned!

TRL: Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.

I’m already putting my retirement plan into practice, and it’s basically being able to teach and share all my knowledge with the next generations of master rum makers to keep the category developing in time.

TRL: Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?

Mainly because it’s usually the first point of contact and experience of the consumer, and as in everything in life, the experience can make a big difference.

I call it the “combo”, a great bartender and a good rum can be the beginning or the way to engage the consumer with the category.

TRL: What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?

Like everything in life, the key is to study and practice. Don’t give up on your efforts. Stick to your values and add up. It is a very nice category that deserves to develop and grow.


TRL: How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?https://www.instagram.com/grandmarques.dorado/