Cachaça is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice only in Brazil. Several countries, including the United States, have recognized it as a unique cultural product of South America’s largest country. However, it is almost exclusively consumed in Brazil, with only one percent exported annually.
Because cachaça is made of sugarcane, countries like the United States consider it a rum. Until 2012, cachaça was called Brazilian Rum in the US. It is most similar to Rhum Agricole, made in the French Caribbean, which is usually made from pressed sugarcane juice, though when it is aged, it is generally aged in oak barrels. Other types of rum are often made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar production.
The first references to cachaça are from the 16th century, though no one is quite sure when it was first made or who created it. Read more about cachaça’s origins here.
Though the process has been industrialized in some areas, it remains primarily a product created in small batches. Around 1,000 official beverage producers are in nearly all of Brazil’s 26 states.
Cachaça can be aged in barrels, though it need not be. The caipirinha, a popular drink made with cachaça, is often made with a clear or “silver” cachaça not aged in barrels.
However, unlike traditional rum, nearly 30 types of wood are used to produce barrels that store aged cachaça. This diversity provides a range of sensory experiences not found in other spirits.
Whether you are a fan of cocktails or prefer to drink your distilled spirits neat or on the rocks, you will find a cachaça that is for you.
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