Many Brazilians, particularly those who have an affinity for cachaça and are, let’s say, getting long in the tooth, have extreme feelings about any product that has been aged. To be polite, they don’t think of it as cachaça. For them, cachaça is fermented sugarcane juice that has been distilled—end of story.
Many of us in the US, who have grown up with vodka, or industrially produced distilled spirits, think of an unaged product as less valuable, or rather, of lower quality. I believe that tequila has changed people’s minds to some extent. However, I’m here to tell you that silver cachaça will change your mind for good.
I’ve been told many times while exploring Brazil’s favorite spirit that you cannot age away a poorly made cachaça. You can’t do it. No oak barrel, amburana barrel, or balsamo barrel will hide a distiller’s errors. In its purest essence, silver cachaça is the pride of a master distiller.
There is nowhere for the distiller to run or hide. They can show their skill at the most basic level, using the ingredients they’ve been handed. What one comes to understand, particularly for those distilleries that have embraced the construct that a poor silver cachaça cannot be aged away, is that silver cachaça is spectacular.
The aromas and flavors handed to the cachaça by the sugarcane itself are present at once. You are immediately brought to the field itself on the day of harvest. And once you experience that field, you have a greater understanding of how important fresh-pressed cane juice impacts the flavor and differentiates cachaça from traditional rum.
I can’t claim to have the most refined palate in the world. Neither can I declare that my nose is keener than a blood hound’s. However, I can say that the use of “wild” versus lab-created yeast is evident in any silver cachaça. I’m not here to defend one or the other because both categories (though, of course, there are distinctions between and among the two) have their merits. The so-called wild yeast certainly gets more to the original spirit of cachaça than that made in a lab. But that doesn’t mean that one is better, merely that there are sensory differences that one may prefer based on personal taste.
When most people think of silver cachaça or any distilled spirit, they think of mixed drinks. They assume that the silver form is cheaper, has less flavor, and should thus be in a cocktail. I don’t believe that’s the case with wonderful silver cachaças. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good in cocktails, merely that they need not be consumed only in cocktails. Instead, they should be considered a sipping drink just like their aged counterparts.
Room temperature, chilled, on ice—whatever way one consumes silver cachaça can’t be wrong. And, of course, your choice cocktail is always worthy of a flavorful silver. But that doesn’t mean you can’t explore the differences in un-aged cachaça.
The roots of your favorite aged cachaça are silver. Don’t forget about them, and don’t get dragged into thinking they are not high-quality. They are