The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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18  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2015 THE MESSAGE Destilería Serrallés Honored with Five-Star Diamond and Lifetime Achievement Awards T he rainy, chilly, mid-autumn evening outside the doors of the Friar's Club in Midtown Manhattan was in stark contrast to the warm, rum-fueled gathering going on inside. It was here that a few dozen spiffy revelers raised glasses of mixologist Esteban Ordoñez's original tipples to Don Felix Serrallés, fifth-generation proprietor of Destilería Serrallés. The storied Puerto Rican rum producer was awarded the Five-Star Diamond Award for the fifth time for his Don Q Gran Añejo rum by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, which has also honored the likes of renowned chefs David Bouley (Bouley Restaurant) and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Mercer Kitchen). "They've got a great product. I travel the world and people always try to impress me with they're products, but the Gran Añejo is like drinking fine Cognac—it's smooth! It's unbelievable," said AAHA President Joseph Cinque of the honored octogenarian, who entered the family business in Ponce, Puerto Rico at the tender age of 22. "I know many people who are connois- seurs and they're all drinking this. Jean-Georges [Vongerichten] and Joël Robuchon love it." Serrallés also received a special Lifetime Achievement Award and a signed boxing glove of his all-time favorite athlete, Muhammed Ali. But the debonair Serrallés isn't ready to rest on his laurels. "We're obviously small in comparison [to other rum producers], so we go the extra mile," he said. "It's about craftsmanship. I think of my rum as the Cognac of rum. I want people to understand it . . . to get it. And if that means I have to win one client at a time, I'll do that." —Amy Zavatto Roberto J. Serrallés, Vice President of Business Development at Destilería Serrallés (left), holds the Five-Star Diamond Award plaque, while Felix J. Serrallés Jr., President & CEO of Destilería Serrallés (center) receives the signed Mohammad Ali boxing glove Lifetime Achievement Award from Joseph Cinque, President of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICAN ACADEMY OF HOSPITALITY SCIENCES A Night of Refreshment Y ou never really need an excuse to enjoy a good glass of Chablis, but some- times nature throws one at you anyway. A few dozen folks conveniently received a pretty hefty reason to imbibe on November 6, when the mercury hit a whopping 90 degrees a few hours before the Domaine Laroche wine dinner at Scott's Restaurant & Bar in Costa Mesa, CA. It could have been easy to fill the air with complaints of unseasonable temperatures and feeling like a roasted Thanksgiving turkey upon arrival to the early evening fête. However, the potential for such discussion dissipated the moment the northern Burgundy-based winery's 2012 Chablis Saint Martin filled people's glasses during the pre-meal reception, possibly because everyone was too busy enjoying how well the wine paired with the accompanying Shigoku oysters. This exquisite kick-off set the stage for an excel- lent four-course meal featuring six different Chablis, as presented by Domaine Laroche wine- maker Grégory Viennois, who spent the evening extolling the virtues of decanting their 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots, among other enticing tidbits. You might say that it was a rather cool way to beat the heat. Domaine Laroche is imported by Wilson Daniels. —Rich Manning

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