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Cachaça: The Brazilian Spirit That Deserves More Attention

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Most major countries in the world have a traditional type of alcohol. Russia has vodka, Ireland and Scotland have whiskey, and Brazil has cachaça. Everyone knows at least two vodka cocktails or has enjoyed Whiskey Sour at least once. These two spirits are present in all beverage menus and are used to create all kinds of cocktail drinks. But what about cachaça?

The most popular Brazilian spirit is known for playing a major role in the creation of Caipirinha. It is a cocktail that is super popular in Brazil. However, you don’t have to visit the country to enjoy the unique taste and aromas of cachaça or Caipirinha. All you have to do is include this spirit in the beverage inventory of your restaurant and include Brazil’s national cocktail in your offers. 

If you are not yet convinced that serving cachaça or cocktails made with it is a good idea, let us tell you more about this unique spirit. We will dive deep into its origins, flavor profile, and the ways you can use it. By the end of this article, you will want to add Caipirinha to your summer cocktail offers!

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Origin of Cachaça

Cachaça is a Brazilian spirit with about five hundred years of history. The spirit blends the influence of the Indian, African, and Portuguese cultures. Although these cultures had an impact, the spirit was first made in Brazil. It’s a distilled spirit from fresh sugarcane juice and doesn’t come from a specific region of the country. 

Key Takeaway: Cachaça is a unique Brazilian spirit that is most popular for its use in the cocktail Caipirinha but it can be used to make many other delicious drinks. It can be consumed neat, too. It’s a great addition to any beverage menu because of its growing popularity in the last few years.

Types of Cachaça

There are two types of this spirit - industrial and artisanal. In the homeland of cachaça, these two types are considered to be very different. Industrial cachaça has the same reputation as cheap vodka in Russia and Eastern Europe. Artisanal cachaça, on the other hand, is a product for connoisseurs. 

Although people who really understand and appreciate the qualities of the Brazilian spirit see lots of differences, the most basic one is the use of column stills to make industrial cachaça and pot stills to make artisanal. 

History of Cachaça

The history of cachaça is closely related to the history of slavery in Brazil. The situation is similar to the history of bourbon and the poor Scotch-Irish immigrants in America. Cachaça has been made since the 1500s, which is about a hundred years before rum was made for the first time. 

The Portuguese realized that sugarcane juice could ferment. They imported stills and they started producing the liquor. This is how the whole industry was created. It’s a history of agricultural landowners. The owners of the plantations would use the stills to make bourgeois products for their consumption. Even now, you can see engineers or other educated people retiring and producing cachaça on their family’s farm. 

When Brazilian immigration peaked, numerous Italians, Lebanese, French, and German people started settling in Brazil. They were purchasing lands and started implementing their own distilling traditions. Most of the immigration occurred in the late 19th and early 20th century. The production of cachaça became even more common. 

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Cachaça in the United States

Up until about 10 years ago, cachaça was labeled as “Brazilian rum” on occasion. This caused confusion with rum that was produced in different regions like the Caribbeans. However, as of 2013, there is an agreement between Brazil and the United States that all Brazilian sugarcane spirits arriving on the US market must be named cachaça.

Cachaça’s Growing Popularity

Although cachaça is best known as an ingredient in Caipirinha, lately the Brazilian spirit is appearing in more drinks. As bartenders became better acquainted with this liquor, they started using it to create various cocktails. 

According to IWSR, the sales of this alcohol have grown significantly in the last 20 years. What’s interesting to note is that the increase is thanks to the many bottles of artisanal cachaça that are being sold. The industrial cachaça is not as popular as the other kind. 

Difference Between Cachaça and Rum

Both cachaça and rum are distilled from sugarcane. However, these spirits are produced through a slightly different process. Technically, the cachaça can only be made in Brazil and from fresh cane juice. The juice is fermented and single-distilled. Rum, however, can be made anywhere. It’s typically produced from molasses and distilled to a much higher alcohol per volume percentage (ABV). 

In terms of taste, cachaça and rum are very different. Cachaça tends to have a much fruitier, livelier nose. Rum, on the other hand, has a spicier and more caramelized flavor. This means you can just switch between the two if you are recreating a recipe. 

How Cachaça Is Classified

Cachaça is classified by the way the liquor is stored before it’s bottled. When it’s not stored in wood after distillation or it’s been in stainless steel containers before it was bottled, it’s labeled as branca (white). If the liquor rests in wood that doesn’t release any color, such are peanut or freijó, it will be white, too. The white cachaça is often called traditional (tradicional), classic (clássica), or silver (prata). 

Yellow cachaça, also known as amarela, is stored in aged wood. This causes a substantial change of color. The producers of this type of liquor call it gold (ouro) or aged (envelbecida). There is a difference, however, between aged and stored cachaça. The stored kind is kept in wooden barrels of any size, not for a specific period of time. On the other hand, aged cachaça must contain over 50% of a liquor that’s at least a year old. It should have rested in a barrel of up to 700 liters. 

Aged cachaça is typically divided into two categories. They are “Premium” for alcohol aged not shorter than a year, and “Extra Premium” for alcohol aged not shorter than three years. In either case, the liquor must be aged in suitable barrels.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Cachaça

Do you want to learn more about this popular Brazilian spirit? Read the answers to these commonly asked questions to get more information about cachaça! 

How Is Cachaça Traditionally Consumed?

Cachaça is commonly enjoyed neat or on the rocks in Brazil. It is also a key ingredient in several traditional Brazilian cocktails. They are: 

  • Caipirinha
  • Batida
  • Rabo-de-galo

Although these are the most popular cachaça cocktails, there are more that can be made. 

Is Cachaça Gluten-Free?

Yes. Cachaça is gluten-free since it is made from fermented sugarcane juice and does not contain any gluten-containing grains. This makes it a good drink to offer if you want to have a more diverse menu, appealing to a larger group of customers. 

How Is Cachaça Different From Rum?

While both cachaça and rum are distilled from sugarcane, they differ in their production methods and flavor profiles. Cachaça is made from fermented sugarcane juice, whereas rum can be made from either sugarcane juice, sugarcane syrup, or molasses. Additionally, cachaça has a more pronounced grassy or vegetal flavor compared to rum.

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