What I really wanted to convey was both the link between cachaça and other spirits, particularly rum, and the very distinct qualities that make cachaça different. The terroir, the aging—these make cachaça unique. No other spirit has the range of flavors cachaça does.
So there it is. The end.
But obviously not. With this breadth of flavor, how can anyone ignore this giant of Brazil? How can they indeed. The question is there, but the question doesn’t matter, because people are ignoring it. As a global force, cachaça barely registers. As the coronavirus rages on here in Brazil, questions remain about what will happen to the global spirits market, as well as markets more generally.
No one knows the answer. But as I was told the other day by someone with greater insight into the American spirits market than I: if Bacardi and Diageo couldn’t make their investments in cachaça work in the US and globally, who can? Those behemoths, with huge resources, weren’t able to get the world to stand up and take notice. And they didn’t succeed because there was no context for cachaça.
That heavy lifting was certainly important and a first step. Even after putting in the effort to having it recognized in the US, this did little good for them. It wasn’t enough for them to succeed in the near term.
The issue is not whether cachaça is a valuable commodity, but whether those involved in the industry understand external markets and cachaça’s relationship to other spirits, particularly rum and Mezcal. How do you maneuver carefully and successfully amongst the strong competition?
I’ve settled on a reasonable response to this question. Bigger isn’t better. Individual effort pays off, but it still isn’t enough. Putting a bottle on a shelf isn’t enough. Being put in a cocktail is great, but it’s not enough. The only way to get over these preconceptions is to look at how other spirits that were very much on the outside looking in reached some level of success in the United States.
It isn’t by throwing around money. It is by creating a community.