Everything You Need To Know About Cachaça
To drink cachaça is to swallow a mouthful of Brazilian history. This 100 percent Brazilian cane sugar liqueur or eau-de-vie is a national staple. From the first hours of colonization to independence in the early 19th century, the drink has been present at every phase of development of this country-continent. Just like rum, there are two different types of cachaça: artisanal cachaça and industrial cachaça.
Artisanal cachaças are produced by the thousands of small sugar refineries dotted around the country. Brazilian farmers who grow sugar cane actually have a right to distil it. This operation is mainly carried out using age-old methods. The copper still is heated over a simple open-air wood fire. Most of the time, the condenser is cooled by water sourced from a stream or pond. However, the stills only retain the essence of the heated product and reject anything from the top and bottom ends containing unwanted particles. The cachaça is distilled at 40°(140° F) and immediately bottled (except for aged cachaça), unlike rum which is distilled at 65-75° (149-165° F), stocked for three months in wood casks then adjusted until it reaches the desired degree by adding spring water.
In the case of aged cachaças, the aging casks are made from a wide variety of local and exotic woods which give their own distinctive flavor to each cachaça produced: chestnut, almond, cherry, oak, Brazilian Redwood, garapeira and many other varieties.
Industrial cachaça are produced by the country’s middle and large-sized refineries, most of them situated in the suburbs of São Paulo and in the State of Ceará. The distilleries use column stills to distil the fermented sugar cane juice: continuous distillation. These cachaças are sold directly to brands that modify the products to suit their own “standards” by adding or removing components. Some producers have been known to add vanilla or cinnamon.
So there you have it — everything you need to know about cachaça!