Massaya Newsletter, April 2023

To Make the Vine Grow, You Need Fulfilled Men

   Titles are generally awarded based on higher education; Professor, Doctor, Engineer, Master... except one in Lebanon, "Mo3allem", pronounced "Mouaallème", which has no equivalence, but it is a title mainly evoking respect, regardless of the level of education, a kind of self-taught master.
In technical professions, the title is often invoked by consensus and is akin to a natural authority. Beyond the hierarchy, this indicates that the team and/or the clients have deemed that the apprentice has travelled his career path with flying colors, to reach a recognized level of expertise and become a "master" in his field. 

And when he in turn becomes a source of inspiration for his own apprentices and a source of confidence for his peers, the title is then acquired. It's a noble apprenticeship in a professional life that I find so rewarding!

   Beyond technical knowledge, at Massaya, he must acquire the necessary human qualities: leading the teams by example, listening, sharing attention and compassion towards the team, seeding knowledge and communicating as equals with other "Mo3allem". 
My role is to support and accompany them to help them acquire the necessary qualifications. Lately, Massaya had three people referred to as "Mo3allem"; the master cellar, the chief technician, and the shipping manager. And we are in the process of moving to five with the agricultural manager and the master distiller who are both gaining ground.  

In other words, my main mission is to ensure that the mixture of technical school, brotherhood, and academy works smoothly within Massaya and that subjective considerations such as jealousy, fear, clientelism, favoritism, prejudices, errors... do not slow down this social and professional elevator.
  Seeing the vine grow is one thing, seeing people flourish in contact with it, is another dimension!

There are schools of traditional agronomy in Lebanon but no institute of organic agriculture, biodynamics, winemaking, or distillation... So, for Massaya, learning can often only exist internally. And inevitably, the process is laborious and there are many failures. It takes a lot of humility, hard work, open mindedness, but above all, it is essential to obtain the support of all the members of the team so as not to hinder the promotion process.

Let's take the example of the position of a master distiller. This strategic position within our company requires at least three distillation campaigns for the learner to become a young traditional Arak "Mo3allem", because the materials whose origins and implementation date back to the dawn of time are austere, need delicate gestures and multiple steps. 

It is a craftmanship, rigorous, often thankless and which requires a lot of passion. In summary, this position does not attract crowds! And after 15 campaigns, the "Mo3allem distiller" asks to evolve... It is for this reason that it is much more convenient to import industrial distillation equipment that is easier and quicker to handle, instead of continuously rebooting the training process of the "Mo3allem" of the old-fashioned distillery.
  To my knowledge, no colleague among the producers whose reputation goes beyond the borders, uses discontinuous and artisanal stills for distillation, so the know-how for the distillation of authentic arak from Lebanon is disappearing. 

Obviously, we hope that with our policy of open door, transparency, and pedagogy, we will encourage new vocation for distillation in stills with the head of "Moor" made by hand in Lebanon. We have to my great regret, become a sort of "guardian of the temple".

At Massaya, we consider that it would be a shame if the land that initiated this age-old craft loses its paternity. If our national drink, of which we are proud of, is demoted to an anonymous spirit. Indeed, there are many aniseed spirits around the Mediterranean basin, yet, the Arak of Lebanon is distinguished by its purity, its aromatic complexity, its finesse. As often, elegance is hidden in the details!


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