Wanting a wine break? The biddies turn to cachaca and Brazil, diving into the history to this sugarcane-based spirit. Tune in to learn all about cachaca from the big brands exported to the states to the kind that you can only find in an antique store in Brazil.


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Eater, A Complete Guide to Cachaca: Brazil’s Most Popular Spirit

The Spruce Eats, What is Cachaca

CNN Travel, The Story Behind the Spirit of Brazil

Please note some of these notes may be directly copied and pasted from above sources.

Study notes for Cachaca:


  • A spicy, sweet, and fruity clear liquor distilled from fermented sugarcane juice
  • By law, must be produced in Brazil and contain alcohol by volume of 38-48 percent
  • Produced by both big and small producers
    • 30%ish comes from small-batch producers
  • Until 2013, it was labeled as Brazilian rum in the United States which caused confusion
    • An agreement between the US and Brazilian governments has established that all Brazilian sugarcane spirit arriving in the US must be named cachaca
  • Cachaca often outsells gin and tequila but 99% of it is drunk by Brazilians
  • Older than Rum
  • Both industrial and artisanal (like all spirits)
    • Aristinal made in copper pot stills and a majority comes from Minas Gerais
    • Industrial will be in large column stills with machine harvested sugarcane and artificial yeasts


  • Not a happy history, much like Rum
  • Country’s first sugarcane mills date back to the discovery of Brazilian territory in 1500 and since then it’s continued to evolve
  • Was first made by the locals who were enslaved and worked in sugarcane mills in the early 1500s, shortly after the Portuguese introduced cane to the country
  • Portuguese colonizers brought stills 
  • Used to be a staple for low-income workers, and originally was known as “pinga” before it became better known as cachaca
    • Cachaca was given to the workers in rations to calm them down and make work more bearable
  • Most recent count in 2011 (from a 2020 article) put the number of produces at around 40,000 


  • Cachaca, rum and rhum agricole are all distilled from sugarcane but each spirit is produced through slightly different processes
  • Technically cachaca can only be produced in Brazil from fresh cane juice which is fermented and single distilled
    • Rum can be made anywhere and is usually produced from molasses
    • Rhum agricole is made from freshly squeezed sugarcane juice within the French island of Martinique 
  • Cachaca is one of the only spirits in the world that can be aged in indigenous Brazilian wood which has become a subject of study
    • Wood is responsible for 60% of the aroma in an aged beverage
    • Studies have been conducted examining the native woods and what flavors they impart to cachaca
    • Arauva: gives a slightly yellowish color and a delicate floral aroma
      • Known distinctively for its viscosity and oiliness it imparts to the spirit
    • Amburana: reduces the acidity and controls the alcohol level with main aromas being cinnamon and vanilla
    • Balm: strongly aromatic and imparts the aromas of cloves and anise
    • Peanut: lowers acidity and gives a very soft yellow color which is almost imperceptible with main aromas of sugarcane and white flowers
    • Jequitiba: Eliminates the faint taste of sugarcane bagasse while decreasing acidity and creating a softer, rounder spirit
  • Mapa de Cachaca (The Cachaca Map)
    • Felipe Jannuzzi, a researcher, realized that the spirit is more likely a universe in itself
    • He traveled all of Brazil to map cachaca producers in this project
    • Won best Cultural mapping project in Brazil from the Digital Culture Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and an international prize at the Gourmand Awards
    • Disclose the sensory quality of many cachacas produced throughout the country
    • Identified 70 aromas found in different types of cachaca
    • Divided into three parts: bibliographic research (what had already been studied), chemical analysis (selected main chemical congeners and researched their corresponding aroma; ie ethyl acetate smells like apples) and then just drank a lot of booze
    • Found similar flavor characteristics in certain regions which means that the terroir and the same processed adopted by producers could enhance the same aromas
      • Ex: Salinas, one of the most known regions for cachaca, producers commonly use balm barrels for aging their spirit during long periods making a spirit with a herbal punch, notes of clove, and a green-golden color


  • Classified by the way its stored before its bottled
  • Branca: Cachaca that is not stored in wood after distillation; so stainless steel
    • Also can be cachaca that rests in woods that do not release colors (such as peanut, jequitiba, freijo)
    • Also can be called classica, tradicional, or prata (silver)
  • Amarela: Yellow; stored or aged in wood which causes a change to its color
    • Also called ouro (gold) or envelhecida (aged)
  • Stored vs. Aged Cachaca
    • Stored: kept in wooden barrels of any size for a non-specified period of time
    • Aged: must contain over 50 percent of a spirit that is a least 1 year old and rested in barrels of up to 700 liters
      • Premium – aged for a period not shorter than one year
      • Extra Premium – a period not shorter than three years


  • Best known for its role in the Caipirinha, the spirit is appearing in more drinks these days as bartenders have become more familiar with it


  • Batida (means shaken or milkshake in Portuguese – cachaca, passion fruit syrup, coconut milk, lime juice)
  • Batida Rossa (soda, pineapple juice, lemon juice, grenadine, cachaca)
  • Cafe Brasileiro (lots of different recipes but cachaca, chocolate liqueur, hot coffee, simple syrup, heavy cream tend to be in a lot of them)
  • Caipirinha (lime, sugar, cachaca)


  • Avua, Bossa, Cabana, Leblon, Novo Fogo, Yaguara, Ypioca