July 2017: Cachaça

Host: Marcelo Moreira 

Cachaça (“Ká-Sháh-Sá”) – the “c” cedille has the “s” sound.

Other names: Aguardente, caninha, pinga.

Additional background information on selected spirit:

Cachaça is often described as a Brazilian Rum, but only to quickly frame it in peoples’ minds for the color and common byproduct from sugar cane. It is often compared to Tequila, but only to describe it as a “hard liquor” and because it can be taken as a shot.

Cachaça is made from Sugar Cane. It is the national spirit of Brazil and used to make the internationally renowned drink “Caipirinha.” Research indicates that 1.3 billion liters of Cachaça was produced in 2003 with only 1% being exported (primarily to Germany, US, and Portugal).  Cachaça is also considered to be the 3rd most consumed spirit in the world, only behind vodka and soju (there’s a lot of people in Russia, Asia, and Brazil).

Four companies are responsible for 43% of the Cachaça production in Brazil. Despite these production giants, Brazil has approximately 3,000 other brands of Cachaça located in only 5 states – the great majority of these being “artisanal”.

As for the history behind  Cachaça’s production, the Portuguese discovered and colonized Brazil in the 1500s. They moved Sugar production from the Madeira Islands to Brazil and brought the pot stills with them to make Cachaça.

Brazil cachaca

There are two varieties of the liquor: Unaged (white in color, cheaper, stronger) and aged (yellow in color, more expensive, smoother).  In Brazil, the rich and the poor drink cachaça – the difference being age/quality/price.

Distillation Process:

Sugarcane is cut and juiced within 24 hours for fermentation.

sugar cane for cachaça

The juice is then approximately 23% sugar, but for the Cachaça, it is diluted to 15%. The liquid is fermented over 24 hours, turning the sugar into alcohol (“wine”).

cachaça fermenting

The liquid is then transferred to copper pot stills (Alambique) for distillation.

copper pot still cachaça

Lastly, some may be aged in steel tanks or barrel-aged.

Barrel aged cachaça

 

  • Cocktail:

Caipirinha

  • Name: Caipirinha
  • Ingredients: Leblon Cachaça, Lime, White sugar, Ice, splash of water.
  • Recipe: Squeeze one lime into a cup, pour 2 spoons of sugar, Add 1oz of Cachaça, several ice cubes, a splash of water, and shake. Pour the liquid into a glass with ice. Add a round slice of lemon on the rim of the glass for presentation.

 

 

Bottle 1Cachaça Bassi Prata

Cachaça Bassi Prata

  • Distillery: Cachaçaria Bassi
  • Proof: 82
  • Price: R$59 (US$20)
  • Purchase location: Galeria da Cachaça (Recife, Brazil) www.galeriadaCachaça.com.br
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Sweet lemon cream, banana bread, vanilla extract.
    • Palate: Blink and it’s gone. There is some light unsalted peanut shell and cream.
    • Finish: Difficult to say there is a finish at all. It doesn’t feel as if the spirit burns off quickly, as some “white dog” does, but it simply disappears without a trace of any flavor.
  • Why this bottle is featured:

Important to feature a relatively unaged Cachaça with a clear liquid. The Bassi Prata (“silver”) is produced in the state of Paraná, South Brazil and aged for a year in Nut wooden barrel. The Brazilian nut tree is known to have a “neutral” wood, which means it doesn’t alter the aroma or flavor of the Cachaça, maintanining the liquor in its pure and natural essence. In 2015, Cachaçaria Bassi received the Golden Star seal of approval from the International Taste & Quality Institute of Brussels.

Interesting fact: The Bassi family started producing Cachaça for their own consumption. It became popular among their friends and soon they decided to commercialize the product.

Bottle 2: Dona Beja

Dona Beja Cachaça

  • Distillery: Vimap Industria e Comercio de Cachaça Ltda.
  • Proof: 80
  • Price: R$65 (US$25)
  • Purchase location Galeria da Cachaça (Recife, Brazil) www.galeriadacachaca.com.br
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Strong strawberry jam, rhubarb, banana, kiwi.
    • Palate: The fruity flavors from the nose transition right into the palate, along with some pencil shavings.
    • Finish: Short, but certainly longer than the Bassi Prata. More herbal than fruity, with some fennel and anise.
  • Why this bottle is featured

Comparing this to the previous bottle helps demonstrate the difference between unaged/aged Cachaça. Dona Beja is aged 3 years in European Oak barrel, and located in the state of Minas Gerais. Family history producing this Cachaça dates back to 1884.

Bottle 3Cachaça Vale Verde (Extra Premium)

Cachaça Vale Verde (Extra Premium)

  • Distillery: Cachaçaria Vale Verda
  • Proof: 40%ABV
  • Price R$96 (US$32)
  • Purchase location: Galeria da Cachaça (Recife, Brazil) www.galeriadacachaca.com.br
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Grassy and musty oak. Starkly different than the first two bottles.
    • Palate: Very clean, though far less sweet than the first two bottles; oak, apricot.
    • Finish: Short, vanilla, musty oak.
  • Why this bottle is featured

This cachaça is also aged 3 years in French Oak. It has won several recognition awards within Brazil. The owner of Vale Verde owned the Coca-Cola rights in the State of Minas Gerais and developed Kaiser, a Brazilian national beer commercialized by Coca-Cola. The founder studied the European techniques of fermentation and distillation of Whisky to improve the quality of his Cachaça. The result became the production of this bottle, the extra premium Vale Verde 3 year aged cachaça.

 

Bottle 4Cachaça Germana 10 years old

Cachaça Germana 10 years old

  • Distillery: Cachaçaria Germana
  • Proof: 86
  • Price: $116.75
  • Purchase location: masterofmalt.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Strong vanilla sugar wafers, lemon, light pepper, some dry oak, pear.
    • Palate: The mouthfeel is a fascinating combination of crisp yet creamy; honey, oak, light pepper.
    • Finish: Short, the sweet flavors return, honey, light spice.

Why this bottle is featured:

Germana is to me the best Cachaça in the market. I have only tasted one of their bottles, the most popular, a 2 year aged Cachaça. I’ve never tasted a 10 year old bottle before, which is why this is featured – apart from it being a “Germana”.

Bottle 5Cachaça Velho Pescador (Extra Premium)

Cachaça Velho Pescador (Extra Premium)

  • Distillery: Cachaçaria Weber Haus (1948)
  • Proof: 76
  • Price: R$109 (US$35)
  • Purchase location: Galeria da Cachaça (Recife, Brazil) www.galeriadacachaca.com.br
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: At first, there was some combination of grass, sawdust,  and vanilla extract. But then, the vanilla aroma took over.
    • Palate: This one is all about the vanilla, as in vanilla soft serve ice cream. Also some light cinnamon sugar and nutmeg.
    • Finish: The longest finish by far. This one leaves a mouthcoating vanilla soft serve ice cream flavor for several minutes.
  • Why this bottle is featured

This cachaça is aged 5 years in American Oak . It won a gold medal in the 2016 world competition for Cachaça in Brussels.

Gentlemen devoted to the finest.

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