About Cachaça

Cachaça expands

Cachaça's movement to different states would profoundly impact its development. Migrants, who wanted to consume or sell the product, placed silver cachaças in wooden barrels to be transported. Barrels made to transport cachaça in Brazil during this time would not have been made of oak since it was not a native species. Instead, barrels of various native woods were used, offering some sensory changes to cachaça.

Like other distilled spirits, cachaça was a major currency in the slave trade and was used as a cudgel to coerce people who were enslaved. The connection between slavery and cachaça had profound and ongoing implications for the entire country. This summary of cachaça’s history doesn’t provide the context or space for delving into race and slavery in Brazil and the relationship to the country’s native distilled spirit. However, we will devote more space to this issue in the blog.

Cachaça: A symbol of Brazilian Liberty for Some

The Portuguese Crown implemented taxes on cachaça as its popularity grew. These measures contributed to the colony's discontent and motivated the first independent ideals. For example, from 1660 to 1661 in Rio de Janeiro, there was even a cachaça revolt, which led to a temporary expulsion of regional leaders installed by the Portuguese.

From 1850 on, with the decline of slave labor and the economic intensification of coffee, a new social sector emerged in Brazil, the Coffee Barons. With elitist ideals, fleeing rural habits, and greater identification with European products and traditions, the new Brazilian elite rejected national products, such as cachaça, considered worthless, destined for poor, uneducated, and, generally, Black people.

Intellectuals, artists, and scholars emerged to combat this discrimination and became committed to resuscitating cachaça’s importance to Brazilian identity, particularly in the first half of the 20th century.

Cachaça today

However, in spite of the efforts to rehabilitate its image, for many years, cachaça remained unappreciated by many Brazilians. In recent decades, however, Brazilians have rediscovered the importance of their spirit and sought to improve its production quality and image. Significant events have contributed to the appreciation of cachaça and its recognition as a part of the nation’s heritage. In 1996, then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso signed a law recognizing cachaça as a typically Brazilian product, establishing manufacturing and marketing standards.

Today, there are more than 1,000 distilleries spread across the country. Cachaça has always been characterized by small-scale production on family-run farms, which now occupy nearly every one of the country’s 26 states. Over the past decade, with increasing interest in raising production standards, cachaça has witnessed a renaissance not seen since its first production in the 16th century.