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A Brief Introduction to Cachaça

Russia has vodka, Scotland has whisky, Mexico has tequila and Brazil has Cachaça.  Cachaça is only produced in Brazil and is single distilled from sugarcane.

The origin of cachaça

Cachaca’s history dates back all the way to 1532 when settlers brought the sugar cane to Brazil and started to farm it.  Locals discovered that fermented sugar cane produced a sweet-tasting liquor.  Cachaça was easy and cheap to make on the farms, so it became known as a working-class drink.  Nowadays, cachaça is a sophisticated drink.  Distillers use over 20 different Brazilian wood types as barrels to give the drink different flavours.

How is Cachaça made?

Sugar cane stalks are pressed to produce a concentrated sugar cane juice.  The juice is then filtered to take out impurities and then mixed with cereal to help the fermentation process and give the finished product a unique taste.  The final prices in creating a cachaça is to ferment the liquid.  The exact cereals used and the length of the fermentation process all depends upon the distillery.

It takes between 1 and 3 days to ferment the liquid at room temperature.  It’s then distilled at high temperatures before officially being labelled cachaça.

Cachaça is conventionally clear; however, cachaças with golden hues do exist, as they’re aged cachaças.  Ageing cachaça isn’t as common as spirits like whisky but it is done to produce a smoother, sweeter taste.

Is cachaça the same as rum?

Yes and no….. cachaça and rum are both distilled from sugarcane…..but the spirits are produced through different processes.  Cachaça can only be made in Brazil from fresh cane juice, which is fermented and distilled.  Rum can be made anywhere, and is usually produced from molasses, a cooked byproduct of sugar production.

Do Cachaça and rum taste the same?

Cachaça and rum taste quite different.  Cachaças tend to have a much fruitier, livelier nose, whereas rum has a spicier, caramelised flavour.  Rum usually has a higher ABV.  The alcohol content of cahaça has to be between 38 and 48%. Its not considered cachaça if the ABV is higher or lower.

Cachaça as its the main ingredient in caipirinhas, our national cocktail.

The Caipirinha, pronounced ‘Kai-Pur-reen-Yah’ is made by muddling green lemons which are native to Brazil (limes are best used when these are not available) and mixing with sugar and cachaça.

The Caipirinha means “little peasant girl”.  Very little is known about its origin.  In the beginning, we believed that the name of caipirinha was a drink that was initially discovered in the interior of Minas Gerais or Sao Paulo, land of caipiras.  But it was in Paraty, in Rio de Janeiro, that the oldest known record of the inspiration of this old cocktail was found.

It is one of the great classic cocktails of the world and the national drink of Brazil.

Brazil has a law on Caipirinhas

Lei de Caipirinha (The Caipirinha Law) is legislation that determines what officially can be called a caipirinha.  So take note, a caipirinha can only be called a caipirinha if it’s made with cachaça and mixed with lime and sugar.  We also make this famous cocktail using strawberries, passionfruit, so we guess, we’re breaking Brazilian law.  Promise not to tell!

The Day of Cachaça

The 13th September is ‘Day of Cachaça’ in Brazil and is held in memory of the ‘Cachaça revolution’ that took place in the late 17th century.  The Portuguese banned the production and export of cachaça in Brazil, due to fears that it was competing too well against the Portuguese spirit, ‘bagaceira‘, made with pomace to make a type of brandy.  Cachaça producers in Brazil, furious with this ban, went to Rio de Janeiro on 13th September to protest.

In the UK, we celebrate National Cachaça day on the 12th of June.

There are expensive cachaça brands

The exclusive edition of Cahaça Valde Verde, which is considered one of the best brands of cachaça in Brazil.  This edition has been aged for 18 years and is regarded the premium bottle in the Vale Verde line.  We stock 2 Valde Verde cachaças

Top 5 Cachaça facts!

  1. Cachaça was first made more than 500 years ago
  2. 2 billion litres of cachaça are made every year in Brazil
  3. Cachaça is the third-most-popular spirit in the world
  4. Brazilian nicknames for cachaça include ‘giver of life’, ‘honey’ and ‘water the birds won’t drink’
  5. scientists have identified more than 70 aromas in cachaça.

See our upcoming blog on caipirinhas for a great recipe and history of the drink.

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