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jul 14, 2017

Brazilian Cachaça: from popular drink to gourmet spirit

The Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink, is famous the world over. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the United States, Europe, or Asia: any bar worth its salt will be serving up the delicious mix of lime, sugar, ice, and Cachaça, the drink’s star ingredient. 

And that is because Cachaça, a spirit distilled from sugarcane, has become a specialty spirit. Yet this wasn’t always the case. For centuries Cachaça was relegated to bottom-shelf status.

The history of Cachaça is deeply connected to the history of Brazil. Historians believe its production began somewhere between 1516 and 1532, not long after the Portuguese colonization first began. This means that Cachaça is older than Pisco, Tequila, or even Rum.

And, just like Brazil, the Cachaça market has been rising. On the hunt for different flavor profiles, distilleries have invested in producing a high-value product. These businesses have created a diverse market, providing customers with up-scale versions of the traditional spirit.

The trend started to gain steam around 1997, and now more than 1,500 registered companies produce Cachaça. According to the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça (IBRAC), Brazil’s production potential reaches 1.2 billion liters. The result is a wide array of Cachaças to suit every palate, including aged and even organic varieties.

While other spirits, like whiskey, can only age in oak barrels, Cachaça is aged in more than 30 different types of wood, each resulting in a unique drink.

Experts say that 2016 was a great year for Cachaça producers. IBRAC announced that, as a result of its partnership with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), exports of Cachaça grew 4.62% in value and 7.87% in volume, totaling $13.93 million and 8.3 million liters. The country also saw an increase in the number of experts, master blenders, Cachaça menus and courses taught about the drink. 

Brazil has also invested in a strict legislation to control the national production. Considered to be part of Brazil’s cultural patrimony, the processes are heavily regulated, much like the designations for Bourbon, Champagne and Cognac.

Until 2013, Cachaça was (mistakenly) referred to as Brazilian Rum in the United States. In 2013, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the United States finally recognized Cachaça as a genuinely Brazilian product. It’s a well-deserved recognition for the country’s specialty product.

The ‘Cachaça’ denomination is equally protected in both Mexico and Colombia. Now, Brazilian producers work to have the same recognition by the European Union.

To promote such unique know-how, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) has launched a series to be published by CNN. The B2B (Blogger to Blogger) initiative will show you an entirely different side of Brazil.

You’ll be able to read the stories from two experts in distilled drinks: Brazil’s Maurício Maia, or the Cachacier, and the UK’s Ian Burrell, a.k.a. “The Global Rum Ambassador.” They will present the different flavors and nuances of the Brazilian spirit drink.

Click here: b2b.bebrasil.com.br

Cachaça: Taste The New, Taste Brasil. Drink with responsibility.