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Apr 29, 2009 07:45 PM

Can you substitute rum for cachaca?

In an emergency, a good Puerto Rican rum will do just fine. After one or two caipirinhas, I can't imagine anyone other than the most sophisticated connoisseur telling the difference. Sure, cachaca is more authentic...but cachaca is Brazilian rum made from sugar cane, and is not very different from Puerto Rican rum.

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  1. Cachaca is not Brazilian rum.In Brazil, they would never confuse rum with cachaca. The mistaken rum classification is a bureaucratic, ATF, international issue, which ignores the distinct national character of cachaca. There are some differences in the production that makes its flavors and aromas unmistakable. This is why Ypioca is labeled cachaca, not Brazilian rum, because the company proved itself to be a distinct spirit.

    But, forget that.You don't have to be an expert.Get a bottle of 51 and Ypioca and put them next to two common Puerto Rican or other rums and do a smell and taste of the four.In 51 and Ypioca you will find aromas that are present in all true cachacas, not the American financed multi-distilled products, and they are different from rum.Cachaca Mae de Ouro also has this nose and flavor.Sagatiba doesn't.

    josephnl, if you can tell the difference between bourbon and scotch you are just the right level of connoisseur.

    13 Replies
      1. re: streetgourmetla

        I beg to differ. Cachasa is indeed distilled from fermented sugar cane much in the same way that rum is. Yes, you are correct that they are not identical in flavor, but they are indeed quite similar. I have been to Sao Paulo innumerable times on business over the past decade, and have had my share of caipirinhas as well as other drinks with cachasa. And yes, I usually have Ypioca at home, but in a pinch have used rum to make a caipirinha. Sure, cachasa is different and certainly that difference is striking on a fresh palate if one is tasting the pure spirit; still I maintain after one or two caipirinhas, I doubt that anyone could tell the difference. To claim that rum and cachasa are as different as bourbon and scotch is ridiulous. In a pinch, I will make a caipirinha with good Puerto Rican rum, and as said before...only the most sophisticated connoisseur will know the difference.

        1. re: josephnl

          It's ridiculous true, that's why I gave the example.Brazilian cachaca makers and the Brazilians also find the comparison to rum ridiculous.That's the point.

          Since you've been to Sao Paulo, I've been about eight times and my wife is from there, too, you'd know that rum with lime and sugar is a caipirissima.They even have a different name for the drink.

          1. re: streetgourmetla

            Yes, I have had caipirissima's...and I think it's ridiulous to argue that if you don't have cachasa available (which is of course the preferred spirit), it is unreasonable to serve guests a similar drink made with rum. The original poster was stressed out over being unable to get cachasa, and as you acknowledge above, even the Brazilians, make a similar (but admittedly slightly different) drink with rum. Every time I fly out of Sao Paulo, I buy Ypioca at the airport (for about seven or eight bucks, U.S.), so I almost always have it on hand, but I have substituted rum and it's slightly different, but still makes a pretty good drink!

            1. re: josephnl

              Tranquilo, josephnl. My issue isn't about the cocktail substitution.The caipirissima is a fine drink, the caipiroska.

              "but cachaca is Brazilian rum made from sugar cane, and is not very different from Puerto Rican rum."

              It was the Brazilian rum thing that drew my comments. If you're now saying that a caipirissima is a fine alternative when you can't get cachaca for a caiprinha,I agree, both are beleza when well made.On this we are in concord.

              1. re: streetgourmetla


                And, of course, any Brazilian will cringe at someone calling cachaca Brazilian rum...and indeed they do have a somewhat different taste. However both are distilled from sugar cane (cachaca from pure cane and rum from sugar cane molasses) and although they are distinct products, they are certainly close cousins. Should they be used interchangeably? Emphatically no...but in a pinch, one can be substituted for the other quite nicely. I think we do agree on this, and generally on the entire issue.

                1. re: josephnl


                  Back in your corners!

                  Let's compromise -- if the OP can't find cachaça in time, he or she can serve the same drink made with rum, call it a "caipirissima" and tell the guests it's Portuguese for "the ultimate caipirinha".


                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Come on Das...this is worth at least 10 more go arounds! Countries have gone to war over much less significant issues!

                  2. re: josephnl

                    Perhaps some good, strong Brazilian 'smoke' will help calm this discussion :).

            2. re: josephnl

              Hey Jíbaro,
              did you have two of your ron puertoriqueno based brazilian country girls before writing this? You need to do a little bit of research or have a little respect for a national spirit, imagine if you were talking champagne or any other DO drink. You wouldnt hear the end of it. Interested to hear what 'cachasas' youve had beyond pitu, ypioca and 51.

            3. re: streetgourmetla

              Can you describe how they're different and whether once combined with lots of sugar and citrus whether that's even detectable? Tonight I spoke with a bartender who let me try so Ypioca and I could see how some rums out there that could come close.

              I mean with bourbon and scotch, scotch has a lot of smokiness from the peat. And bourbon has a lot of caramel flavor from the barrel; and when mixed that smokiness is still detectable. But what describes a cachaca that differentiates it from a rum (with the same degree of aging and general distilling process)?

              1. re: yarm

                Well, first off, not all scotch has peat.Coal and gas are used in the drying process in different brands.Both scotch and bourbon can have many similarities.The fact that we never would view scotch, canadian whiskey, or bourbon as interchangeable isn't just about flavor. Most rum is made from molasses while cachaca is made with fresh pressed sugar cane juice, as is rhum agricole from Martinique.Already we have a big difference. Rhum agricole is also distilled to a higher abv than cachaca.

                Cachaca is also aged in a variety of woods including oak,balsam,(Brazilian)baru,umburana,jequitiba rosa, jatoba,and castanheira.Oak and balsam are the most widely used.Cachaca producers ad a corn meal starter called fuba during fermentation, and use naturally ocurring indigenous yeast strains.There are a wide range of aging in cachacas which give a great spectrum of color. Would these things make a difference?

                Can you tell a Johnnie Walker Red and coke from a Jack and coke? I would bet that some wouldn't tell the difference for a variety of reasons, but if the drinks are made correctly as to give the characters of the spirits most of us who drink would probably tell. Is your bartender Brazilian, or well traveled in Brazil? If he's trying to show you how close they are I would think not.Most bartenders here in town don't make caipirinhas the way they are in Brazil. The Brazilian restaurants do a great job. A proper caipirinha with Ypioca should not be lacking in cachaca flavor.If you put too much lime, don't muddle enough, don't use raw sugar, it may resemble something else. Brazilian sugar works even better.

                I taste the difference, Brazilians understand the difference, besides the technical aspects. I have rum made from molasses, rhum agricole, and about 20 bottles of fine cachaca not available in the US here at home. Friends who drink have been able to tell in tastings.I can substitute a scotch and coke with a whiskey and coke but that doesn't make them the same just because they're made form grain.Despite the flavor difference we don't have any cultural disregard to interfere with our understanding of scotch and rum.

                1. re: streetgourmetla

                  I meant to say scotch and bourbon.And, I know Jack Daniels is a Tennesse whiskey, not a bourbon, so perhaps Jim Beam and coke vs. a cheap blended scotch and coke.

            4. ^In an emergency, a good Puerto Rican rum"

              *likes your thinking... not necessarily as regards caipirinhas, but the concept of emergency rum*

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cinnamon

                I must admit when I re-read my post I too got a chuckle out of it. Now if I were to consider an "emergency gin" it would be a far more serious situation!