:: Cachaça (sugar cane brandy)

A little bit of history

The Portuguese brought sugar cane from South Asia to Brazil during the colonization period. The oldest version regarding cachaça origins says its discovery, at the beginning of the XVI century, was unintentional deriving from a sub product of Brazilian brown sugar and rapadura – raw brown sugar blocks – production method. In the process, the sugar cane juice boiled in pots thickened generating spume or sediment on its top, which kept in wood bowls fermented, becoming a kind of sour brandy served as a food supplement to animals. Afterwards, sugar mill owners began to offer the brew to their slaves and, subsequently, the idea of distilling it revealed the aqua vitae named cachaça. The first distilleries known as “houses of cooking honey” proliferated fast since many sugar mills were already operational.


The term cachaça may derive from the ancient Iberian language that denominated cachaza a low-grade wine, consumed in Portugal and in Spain, or from a wild pig species known as cachaço, whose feminine is cachaça, found in the woods of the Brazilian northeast possessing quite a tough meat usually softened with sugar cane brandy.


From the middle of the XVI century up to the first half of the XVII century, sugar cane brandy became currency to pay for slaves in Africa. As a result, the sugar mill owners split their production between cachaça and sugar, thus impairing the sales of Portuguese wines forcing Portugal many times unsuccessfully to prohibit the production, commercialization, and consumption of the drink. Later, fabrication techniques improved, so the liquor reached the court’s tables served in palatial banquets, flavored with ginger or other spices, and in Portuguese religious feasts as a hot-spiced beverage. In the XIX century, it became the symbol of love for Brazil and resistance against the Portuguese colonialism.


Dom Pedro I toasted Brazilian independence with cachaça and President Fernando Henrique Cardoso chose it as the official drink in all festivities commemorating 500 years of the discovery of Brazil.


For tasting, we suggest a small crystal goblet since it imprisons the alluring flavors of cachaça. Sense its aromas! They call to mind sugar cane; molasses; raw brown sugar and, some woods. Its classy touch and characteristic taste depend on the wood of the barrel where the cachaça aged. The most commonly utilized casks are made of oak, balsam and a variety of Brazilian woods.

Tasting Flavors - Drink a mouthful of cachaça and do not swallow it right away. Let the liquid disperse in your mouth, take a breath before swallowing, and only exhale after swallowing, so you can evaluate the remaining flavor. You will perceive the sweet on the tip of the tongue, the bitterness on the bottom of the mouth, and the acidity on both sides of the tongue.



How is it possible to recognize a high-quality cachaça? Here are some tips!


1. Shake the bottle well. If it is a high-quality cachaça, a string of bubbles will appear around the bottleneck and will vanish in about 10 or 15 seconds.

2. Sugar cane brandy must be transparent and free of impurities. It can be colorless or golden; in this case indicating it was aged in wood barrels.

3. Pour the drink slowly leaning against the glass and observe. The liquid should form a thin layer dripping like delicate oil.

4. The smell has to be enjoyable and the emanation cannot burn the nose or the eyes.

5. The first aromatic note must call to mind sugar cane.

6. The best cachaças have four flavors: sweetened, acid, bitter and salty, each of them more or less intense depending on the brand.

7. Furthermore and very important: a good cachaça has to provoke a sweet and pleasant burning in the mouth.