Cachaça Education Part 5: To Age or not to Age

Cachaça Education Part 5: To Age or not to Age

We’ve reached the final week of cachaça education. I’ve written these posts as a summary of how distillers produce cachaça. This week, we focus on what happens after the sugarcane spirit is distilled.

Once a producer has completed their distillation process, the resulting product goes into steel inox tanks. These tanks are neutral and don’t have any impact on the cachaça’s flavor or coloring. Most producers have an unaged cachaça, so at least a portion of what they’ve just created will go from the tanks directly into bottles.

On the other hand, most producers have now realized the value of aging their products in various types of wooden barrels. So, as their cachaça sits in inox tanks, distillers must decide how much of it they want to age. As I’ve said elsewhere, distillers in Brazil use barrels made of 30 different types of wood. The impact of that wood varies, of course. There are several types of wood that have little to no impact on the cachaça, and therefore, could be considered silver. I’m still not convinced of the value of doing this, but producers have a different opinion. These types can be characterized as “stored” (armazenada in Portuguese) in barrels, resulting in no substantial impact in taste or color.

Still, barrel-aged cachaça is increasingly essential. Most woods do have an impact on the cachaça. And here, I can point out some standards created by the Brazilian government, which outline how distillers consider the length of time they age their products, the sizes of the barrels they use to age their cachaça, and the descriptions that must be applied to those products.

  • Ouro

    • This type of cachaça can be aged for an indeterminate amount of time in large (over 700 liters) barrels.

  • Premium

    • This type of cachaça must have 100% of its content aged in barrels 700 liters or smaller for one to three years.

  • Extra-Premium

    • This type of cachaça must have 100% of its content aged in barrels 700 liters or smaller for more than three years.

  • Special Reserve

    • This title is for those products that have very unique characteristics. I’m still unclear on what that means precisely.



Blending cachaça, aged in various types of barrels, has become an essential part of cachaça creation, as well. To get into blending, which for many other spirits is mostly about creating a consistent product, cachaça producers must be risk-takers. Blending across barrel-type is extremely difficult. And, as I said when I wrote about Casa Bucco’s 8-wood blend, to create a good blend requires an extraordinary amount of skill.

What’s interesting right now is the experimentation among distillers. There’s still an effort to understand what works and what people will like. Indeed, there are some distillers who have established production methods, understand what works for them, and aren’t going to change what they produce. But for many of the firms established in the last twenty years, the market remains open and widely unknown.

Aged cachaça is a valued part of the cachaça landscape. The flavors cachaça offers are unparalleled. Here in Brazil, people are increasingly enthusiastic about cachaça’s long-term prospects and embrace the creativity of modern distillers. The question now is not whether cachaça is a high-quality spirit, but how this exceptional product will make it into the hands of discerning spirits drinkers across the globe.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.