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October 13, 2011

Cachaça versus Rhum Agricole
Excerpted from Drinkboy.com

Q: What is the difference between Cachaça and Rhum Agricole?

The simple answer and most common answer is that cachaça is cachaça because it is made in Brazil. Both rhum agricole and cachaça are made from sugar cane juice but they are quite different spirits.  Just as there are vast differences in wine from different regions, the same holds true for cane based spirits.  Is the cane burnt or unburnt?  How long is the fermentation time?  What strain of yeast was used? What variety of sugarcane was used?  Was there a lot of rain that year?  Literally dozens of factors influence the production of these two distilled spirits.

Government regulations specific to Brazilian cachaça are numerous and strict.  The major ones are that 1) Cachaça is distilled from sugarcane juice 2) Cachaça can only be made in Brazil 3) No neutral alcohol can be added to it 4) Up to 6mg of sugar per liter can be added to it 5) Cachaça cannot be distilled to higher than 54% ABV (Rhum Agricole is distilled to 70% ABV and is often double distilled) 6) Cachaça cannot be bottled below 38% ABV or above 48% ABV. 7) There are also secondary components created during the fermentation process that give cachaça its unique flavor profile.  These components must be at least 200mg per liter and not more than 650mg per liter and divided among the different components (organic acids, esters and such). 

However cachaça is so much more than a list of regulations, especially when you try a pot distilled cachaça that combines a unique old world process with indigenous ingredients like wild corn yeasts.  Pot distilled cachaça often goes beyond the basic cachaça regulations above.

For example Cachaça Fazenda Mae De Ouro is distilled from fresh pressed sugar cane juice that comes from just the center stalk of an unburnt sugar cane plant.  The fermentation agent is a wild corn yeast and the fermentation time is a quick 18 hours.  Then the juice is distilled using a steam heated, copper pot still to a low 43% ABV, taking just the heart of the heart of the distillation.  Then it is aged in 30 year old used Scotch barrels for about a year and the ABV drops from 43% to 40% naturally.  Before it is bottled it is also filtered for color and to remove some of the tannins that it picks up from the oak.

This is just one example of how small batch cachaça can be made, a process that is quite different from that of Rum Agricole.  The proof is in the product, and I invite you to taste for yourself to see the difference. Cachaça Dave www.caipirinha.us


Cachaca Fazenda Mae De Ouro