Rum Masters / Maestro Roneros of CubaRon

The rum masters are the most important people in the distillery. They are responsible for all new creations and blends. For 15 long years the aspiring Maestro undergoes through a rigorous training. Under the supervision of a senior Maestro del Ron Cubano he learns to select the best molasses, supervise their fermentation and distillation, pick the best casks to age the distillates and blend them to obtain the finest rums.

First Rum Masters

Don José Pablo Navarro (Havana Club Rum)

Don José was born in 1942 (28th April) in Palma Soriano. He has lived in Santiago de Cuba city since he was 7 years old. José Pablo Navarro is the fifth of six siblings. He studied Chemical Engineering at the Universidad de Oriente, in Santiago de Cuba. He graduated from that high studies institution in 1964. José Pablo Navarro worked as a teacher of the school of Chemical Engineering till 1970. During this time, he was very active as a teacher and got to get a specialty in Physical Chemistry, Technical thermodynamics, Thermodynamics for Chemical Engineers and Mass Balance, as well as Energy applied to industrial plants. By 1968 he had already published some articles of academic significance.


In 1971 he left his work as a teacher and started in the rum industry, where form the first days he found a wide and preferential field to apply all the knowledge he had gathered along his years of studies. After 15 years he was called Maestro Ronero.

He became more and more the most famous person of Havana Club. He Created some of the most best selling products like Havana Club 7 and Havana Club Maximo. His blends are the most accepted in the world. Probably he is also the most famous ronero in total.

† Don José Navarro died after a fight against cancer in September 2020 

He was the first Maestro and the face of Havana Club!

Asbel Morales Lorenzo (Havana Club Rum)

He was born on April 2, 1968 in a village in the municipality of Santo Domingo, Villa Clara province, within a working class family consisting of four brothers.After completing the pre-university studies in the town of Manacas, he attended technical studies of Technology of Beverages and Liqueurs in Havana, graduating in 1988. In that same year, he began working in the Central Rum Factory, working on different jobs linked to aging plants and rum manufacturing and mixing. His experience with rum, made him realize of its inseparable link to Cuban culture, with his unique technology and its tradition.

In 1998 he graduated in Accounting and Technical Costs, applying his knowledge to the processes of the rum industry. In 2000, he began studying chemical engineering at the University Camilo Cienfuegos in the province of Matanzas. In those years he spent in the Central Rum Factory, he became part of the Movement of Masters of Cuban Rum of Cuba Ron Corporation, while involved in the research and development of new products and the reorganization of the wines in aging that guarantee the qualities necessary for the export of rum from this rum as well.
In 2003, he began his work in the Rum Factory of Santa Cruz del Norte as Plant Manager. In this period, he also participated in the preparation of the construction projects of the Factory of Havana Club rums, located in the city of San José, current Mayabeque province. In 2006 he graduated as a chemical engineer and became part of the Project Group and Enforcement of the Rum Factory Havana Club of San Jose, doing his thesis on the verification of the operation of the brandy distilling system of Havana Club rum before the assembly of the plant, which was built in France under the technological requirements and know-how of masters of rum.

As Master of Cuban Rum he has participated in the development of new rums from Cubay and Havana Club brands, and other from the Company of Liquors and Beverages. He also worked on the design of equipment, organization of aged bases and as professor in the preparation of specialists who would be part of the team of the Rum Factory of San José.

He currently is a Master of Cuban Rum in the Rum Factory of San José. This factory was designed for the production of Havana Club brand rums. In close collaboration with marketing teams and commercial, he develops an arduous national and international communication task on rum Havana Club, participating in important events such as the International Fair of Havana, the International Exhibition of Paris, product launches and training of the sales forces, bartenders and others.



Juan Carlos González Delgado (Havana Club)

He was born in 1951 within a working class family. His first studies were in schools of todays Mayabeque province. He graduated from the University of Havana in 1976, and he began working in the Rum Factory of Santa Cruz that same year. He has worked in Quality Control and Research in gas chromatography, atomic absorption spectrophotometry, Sensory Evaluation and technology and production of rums and liqueurs. He has the status of Master of Cuban Rum since 2003 and as such he performs in the Rum Factory of Santa Cruz.

Rum Masters

Francisco Sabat

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 his 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 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”.

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.

Noemí del Toro

She had the honor to do the college practicum with Jose Pablo Navarro. Del Toro studied at the CUJAE, but she returned again to Santiago, and  was assigned to work at Cuba Ron, which was called Empresa de Bebidas by that time.

"I worked as a specialist on the distillery department and was head of plant of Matusalén rum and head of manufacturing of Caney rum. I love technology, being in production, that is my life. When I was at the distillery we were very few women, and we always handled well the problems, especially with teaching, so that people could know well what they were doing. In this industry you cannot work without a purpose and passion.

Rum is a drink that everyone likes: I enjoy having a nice conversation with friends or family, listen to good music, share a bottle, taste quality."

Salome Alemán Carriazo (Havana Club Rum)

She was born on December 18, 1965 in Havana. She attended primary, secondary and pre-university studies in Old Havana municipality where she currently lives. She started college in 1983 at the Polytechnic Institute Jose Antonio Echeverria (CUJAE) in the field of Chemical Engineering in Food, from which she graduated in 1988.

She began her working life in September of that year in the Rum Factory of Santa Cruz, where she remains currently working.

In 1990, once the training period was concluded, she got the position of Chief of Session in the yeast plant La Torula, and later she had the similar position in the Distillery # 2, in which she had already been trained and where she worked until 2003.

Then she served as Head of Manufacturing of Rums and Liqueurs until 2007. From that moment she began to perform as Specialist in Development and Technology, a position she holds nowadays.

During these years she has been able to receive improvement courses that have helped her in her comprehensive training, including courses of Management and Management Skills, Distillation of Alcohol and Liquor, ISO Standards 9000, Integrated Management Systems, Audit and Management Environment Systems and technological innovation.

Her dedication and outstanding performance in learning the production process and tradition of Rum, together with her qualities as a good communicator, made her be incorporated as an Aspirant in the Movement of Masters of Cuban Rum in January 2011.

On May 24, 2016 she was named Master of Cuban Rum, being the first woman to reach that category in the Movement of Masters of Cuban Rum.

Julio Enrique Ayan Rial (Santiago de Cuba Rum)

He was born in Havana on April 7, 1970, but he spent his childhood and youth in the city of Santiago de Cuba, where he currently lives.

His first studies were in "26 de Julio " and "Espino Fernández" schools in Santiago de Cuba. His pre university studies were in the "Cuqui Boch" Institute in that same city.

In 1993 he graduated as an agronomist in the (current University of Granma) "Higher Institute of Agricultural Sciences" of Bayamo, obtaining positive results in scientific events.

He began his working life in the Provincial Research Station of Sugarcane in Granma, where he served until February 2003. During this stage he graduated as Master of Science in Plant Production in 2000, he attended postgraduate courses (26), conducted advisory work for Diploma papers to 4th and 5th year Agronomy students (3), he gave lectures and courses (6), participated in National and International (12) Events and conducted researches (17).

In March 2003 he began working in the Production Department of the Rum Factory of Santiago de Cuba, in the Caney rum factory. He worked as a manufacturer, Technology Specialist and Team Leader of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). He is currently Head of the Innovation Group of the Rum Factory. He has received 11 courses and trainings during this period.

He participated in the replacement and modernization of the filters used for filtration and dilution of liquor and in the implementation of the water demineralization plant in the Rum Factory of Santiago de Cuba.

He has participated in the development and production of new products such as: 50 Aniversario del Asalto al Cuartel Moncada, assortments of Santiago de Cuba brand, Añejo Superior 11 years, the Extra Añejos 12, 20 and 25, as well as the 495 Anniversario de la Fundación Santiago de Cuba; Havana Club Selección de Maestros and other rums as Varadero Silver Dry, Caney Blanco and Extra Añejo XXX Anniversario del CIMEX.

In 2011 Cuba Ron gave him the category of Master of Cuban Rum, by the results achieved in the defense of the history and cultural expression of Cuban Light Rum.

César Augusto Martí Marcelo (Ron Cubay)

He was born in the central region of Cuba in the municipality of Santo Domingo, Villa Clara Province on September 8, 1976, doing his studies in the town of Rodrigo of the same municipality. In 1991 he continued his education in the University of Exact Sciences "Ernesto Che Guevara" in the city of Santa Clara.

During his training as a chemical engineer at the University of Las Villas, he made his pre professionals practicum in the Central rum factory "Agustin Rodriguez Mena" starting to feel interested in the Rectification of Alcohol and Cuban Rum production processes in its many stages.

Upon graduation in 2000 he began working in the Central rum factory as a technologist. A year later he became a wannabe for the Masters of Rum movement, where he developed the ability to identify and select the raw and auxiliary materials in the Rum manufacturing process and introduce technological improvements. He conducted Projects and researches, learning to interpret results, design products; but above all, as he himself expressed "he learned to love the Cuban rum as an authentic expression of our culture". In 2009 he was awarded the rank of Master of Cuban Rum by the top leadership of Cuba Ron corporation, which he holds until today.

He has worked in the development of new products and the formulation of rums; aimed at expanding the assortments of Havana Club and Cubay brands, among which are the Cubay Añejo Suave, 10 Years Cubay Añejo Superior, Cubay Carta Dorada and Havana Club Selección de Maestros.

He has participated in international presentations representing the Cuban rum in Chile, France, Spain, Peru and Argentina, where the launch of Havana Club Selección de Maestros and Pro-Wine fair for wine and spirits markets in Europe took place.

In Cuba, he has participated in several events covering the International Fair of Havana, Expo Caribe Fair Santiago de Cuba, ExpoCentre, Habano Fair and Master Class Havana Club, presenting different brands such as Havana Club, Cubay, Santiago Cuba and Caney.

He has taught courses nationwide on sensory evaluation of rums, spirits and eaux-de-vie; technological processes of production of rums and rectification of alcohol. As Auditor, he has conducted technical inspections in both the Central Rum Factory and other Cuba Ron factories. He has published articles in national magazines related to issues of technological innovation. He is a member of the ANIR and holds the 8 October award.

Tranquilino Palencia Estruch "Tano" (Santiago de Cuba Rum)

He was born in 1947 within a typical family of the city of Santiago de Cuba, with strong patriotic feeling and historical and cultural sense. He studied at the College "De La Salle" whose motto was "God, Country and Home". He graduated in Chemical Engineering at the University of Oriente in 1972. He incorporated the same year to the nickel company Pedro Sotto Alba, of great technological complexity and a reference in the development of human relationships. All these, the Master Tano says, "it served as a complement to my training as a person and as a professional".

Working in Nickel, in the city of Moa, he could apply the knowledge acquired at university, occupying different technical positions in the company. In that period, he was a member of the Mining Branch Metallurgical Academy of Sciences of Cuba, Member of the International Multidisciplinary Team for the Preservation of the Environment, where he participated in international events held in Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania and Cuba.

In 1983 he returned to the city of Santiago de Cuba and began working on the Beverage and Liqueurs company, as head of the Department of Standards, Metrology and Quality Control, where he met the love of rum industry and to which he devoted body and soul, to try to understand its basics and secrets, for 28 years.

Tireless student of the history of the city of Santiago de Cuba, the cradle of Cuban Light Rum since 1862 and where the rum-making tradition is expressed as part of a culture rooted, he has dedicated himself to discover and cultivate the secrets of this Industry. He delved into the cultural and scientific-technical richness of the "Don Pancho" winery, an emblem on the history of genuine Cuban rum aging, and supporting the development of the Rum Museum of the City itself.

Linking with all Industry processes has since been, permanent and mutually enriching from Sugarcane to the study of the Molasses, through the processes of fermentation and distillation for spirits distilled from quality to its culminating point in aging wineries, where master craftsmen of the Quality of Santiago de Cuba rum are: barrels in aging state. This relationship becomes indissoluble between the barrels and Master, as the latter finds and assigns each a specific and unique function to achieve the product he wants to make. Without those barrels without the Masters, there would be no rum-making tradition in Cuba.

In 2003, the Corporation Cuba Ron gave him the category of MASTER OF CUBAN RUM as a result of the work done by him in the Defense of the Rum Tradition, expression of the culture and history of Santiago de Cuba.

As Master, he has participated in the development of products from the SANTIAGO DE CUBA brand, based on the Carta Blanca and AÑEJO to the famous AÑEJO SUPERIOR 11 YEARS, the EXTRA AÑEJO 12, 20 and 25, and the 495 ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE CITY, which have won numerous national and international awards for quality and design. He has also participated in the design and development of products Varadero Silver Dry, Caney Blanco and Extra Añejo XXX CIMEX Anniversary.

In his daily work he cares and ensures the state and balance of stocks of the aged Bases in the wineries, to achieve the assurance of productions of coming years. He also maintains a close relationship with the work done by the Barrel Workshop of the Rum Factory.

He has made 36 presentations of products from brands such as: Santiago de Cuba, Havana Club, Caney, Varadero and Cubay in events such as the International Fair of Havana, the International Habano Festival, the Caribbean Fair and Master Class of Havana Club. In 2006 he was responsible for the Presentation of Santiago de Cuba Rum in the city of Milan in Italy and in 2008 he participated in his capacity as Master of Cuban Rum at the Meeting of the Rum Makers from the Caribbean, held in Santiago Cuba

Manuel Calderón Echevarría (Havana Club)

He was born in the nest of a working class family on October 5th, 1956 in the province of Matanzas. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Jose Antonio Echeverria Polytechnic Institute, in Havana city, where he graduated from Chemical Engineering in the Food Specialty.

His work in the Rum Factory of Santa Cruz rum began in 1981, where he served as a technician. A few years later he was trained in the German Republic to achieve his professional development. In 1994, after his outstanding work in the factory he left to the Republic of Ecuador to work as technical advisor. In 2001 he began working as a specialist in the presidency of Cuba Ron until 2006, when he was transferred to the facilities of the Havana Club Rum Factory of San Jose, in Mayabeque province.

Aspirants to Rum Masters

Mabel Hernandez Cuevas

During her training as a chemical engineer at the University of Las Villas "Marta Abreu", she developed several practical activities linked to factories in the territory as part of the curriculum of the specialty, which allowed her to learn about:

  • Sugar production: labor practice in CAI -  George Washington 1992
  • Production processes and Alcohol Production: Work Practice in Central Rum Factory Cuba Ron - from 1993 to 1996

Upon graduating in 1996, she was located in the Central Rum Factory "Agustin Rodriguez Mena." Villa Clara, where she has worked until now and has served as:

  • Training Technician. (Rotation by areas of the UEB rum, UEB distillery Development Group)
  • Specialist in Beverages and Spirits. (Development Group entity)
  • Specialist in Preparation of alcohols. (UEB Technology Laboratory and Distilleries)
  • Quality Management Specialist, A category. (Head of Operations)
  • Head of the Quality Management Group. (Head of Operations)
  • Quality Management Specialist. (head of Operations)

She serves as B. Quality Management Specialist and Management Representative for Integrated Quality Management System, Safety, Media room, Innovation, Human Resources. SST and Energy.

Mariá Caridad González Portuondo

In 1996 she started to work in the Rum Factory of Santiago de Cuba as part of the first group of trained university graduated professionals received by this entity. During her training for the different areas of the rum factory, she showed much interest and concern in acquiring specific knowledge and develop skills that would be applied in her subsequent performance. Upon completion of the training she occupied the position of Technologist UEB Aging and Cooperage, and a few months later she was awarded the position of Chief of the Making Department of the UEB Aging and Cooperage where she worked directly to production, performing satisfactorily being followed and respected by her subordinates.

Nowadays she works as a specialist in technology in the operations management.

Isabel Cristina Rivero Páez

She was born on October 21, 1969 in the City of Santa Clara, Villa Clara Province. She completed her first studies in "La Edad de Oro" and "Juan Oscar Alvarado" schools and then in the pre-university "Fructuoso Rodriguez" in the same municipality reference. She continued her studies at the polytechnic school "Ejército Rebelde" located in Havana Province. She graduated in 1989 from " Beverages and Spirits Technician".

She began her working life in September of that year at the Soft Drinks Bottling Factory "Osvaldo Socarrás" in the city of Santa Clara holding the position of Bulk Soda Chemical Analyst.

She changed her address for the municipality of Cardenas, Matanzas province and joined the workforce of the Rum Factory in 1991 where she worked as a Production Assistant, Aging winery technician, Chemical Analyst, Technologist, Chief of Rum Manufacturing and Director of the rum-making unit.

During these years she has received upgrading courses that have helped her in her integral formation, such as Course in Processes Management, Training of Internal Auditors in the quality management system, NC ISO: 9000 and Environmental Management Systems. She got a Bachelor degree in Socio-Cultural Studies in 2011.

She also participated in the First Course on Sensory Evaluation taught in Cuba Ron and since then she is a member of the Committee of Sensory Evaluation of the Rum Factory.

She has participated in the development and formulation of products such as Whisky Old Havana, Sao Can eau-de-vie and liqueurs (Coco, Anise and Lemon) to be produced soon for the national market.

She participated in replacing the filtration system dilutions of both alcohol and brandy and assembly of the demineralizer of rum of Rum factory of Cárdenas. She is currently a specialist in technological processes of the food industry in the manufacturing area of rums.

For her discipline and exigency in compliance with technological processes, dedication and behavior highlighted in learning technology of Cuban Rum and its tradition, together with her sensory qualities, her incorporation as wannabe Master of Cuban Rum is approved in 2009.

Maestro del Ron - Youtube-Video