It is now summer in Central America,the rains have subsided for the most part, mangos and coconuts are in season. Clouds of fine dust arise from the roads as the cars drive on or at the slightest provocation from the wind. And as I walk through the sugarcane fields, witnessing the early stages of cane growth, I should not be amazed, but I still am. I’m amazed at how nature turns the same clouds of dirt that are now pushing me to the brink of sneezing, the sun that is baking the exposed skin on my neck and arms and the moisture so deeply missed now by my throat, into the juicy, sugary and generous cane stalk.
Nature constantly performs transformations such as these all around us. We simply get so used to them that we take them for granted or, even worse, never notice them in the first place.
The Greek alchemical elements: wind, fire, water and earth, were thought to be the building blocks of everything in the universe and, to a great extent, they truly ARE involved in some stage of their creation. Rum’s transformations inside the aging barrel are equally mesmerizing: from the loss of hydrogen atoms during the creation of aldehydes to the formation of water molecules during the esterification process. Again, I should not be amazed (it is,after all, part of the basic organic chemistry knowledge all engineering students learn in college), yet seeing the transformation take place in front of me continues to capture my attention and imagination.
Sugar, alcohol, water and wood are, in their own way, a smaller set of alchemical elements that modern-day distillers and blenders continue to use to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Luis Ayala, Editor and Publisher