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Jun 8, 2010 06:30 AM

First bottle of cachaca--disappointed

I picked up a bottle of Agua Luca--cool bottle. Opened it up and was disappointed to smell a faint resemblance to tequila, which I do not like. Sipped a little and also was reminded of tequila. I made up a caipirinha with limes, superfine sugar, and ice. It was okay, but not nearly as good as I was expecting.

Am I crazy to be reminded of tequila? It certainly wasn't like rum, which is what I was expecting. It's always disappointing to buy a fifth and liquor and then not really like it. Especially when it's something most people haven't heard of and probably won't want to try. I'd really like to try other cachacas--too bad I can't find the airplane bottles of it.

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  1. It is like some rums, like rhum agricoles from Martinique. It is very unlike the average smooth Bacardi-ized rums. I could see how it could have a blanco tequila aspect to it.

    There are definitely some sipping cachaças like GRM and Rochinha (both of which are barrel aged for extended periods of time), but most are rather rough and funky and are meant to be mixed with.

    I just googled the specific cachaça you bought and it's one of the "super premium" ones that was filter 12 times. It might be still too raw to sip, but not raw enough to make a good Caipirinha. There's a Brazilian maxim, "Quanto pior a cachaca, melhor a caipirinha (the worse the cachaca, the better the caipirinha)."

    2 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      Hey I like that saying as I bought some premium Cachaca at the Local LCBO but didn't like it it was way too smooth. I have swicthed back to Pitu which has nice rough finish for Caprihina

      1. re: elvisahmed

        Same goes for many spirits -- smoother is sometimes desirable for cocktails and other times a disaster. For example, in white rums, the Periodista is delightful with a flavorful but not harsh white rum (some recipes call for a dark rum which are often more gentle as well), whereas the 12 Mile is a lame drink with a similar rum. The 12 Mile was created during Prohibition when the rum was harsher and the drink only prospers with a rum of that style.

        The 12 Mile (our Periodista post will be up in a few days):

    2. cachaca isn't rum. It is a sugarcane juice spirit. Although technically it qualifies as rum by the US TTB standards, it is a different critter. Some cachaca does have slight similarities to tequila, if you mean earthy and vegetal notes. Various cachaca have very different flavor profiles. There are industrial cachacas, and artisanal ones. The industrail ones go for $1-3 a bottle in Brazil, and many of the artisanal ones go for hundreds, even thousands of dollars a bottle. The flavor profile is all over the map, over 20 types of wood can be used in the aging process. There are over 5,000 cachaca distilleries in Brazil, only a handful make it to the US. I recommend Leblon as a good one that is available here.

      Agua Luca isn't a traditional cachaca. It is more of a entry level cachaca made for the American market. High on marketing, low on actual flavor.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        Well, in my opinion, denying that it's rum is like denying that Scotch is whiskey.

        There are rums that use only sugar cane juice including rhum agricoles and 10 Cane brand. But like rhum agricole, cachaça is a regional product with certain guidelines for its production.

        Like JMF said, there's a lot of variety out there with cachaças although only some of them make it out to this country (more if you have a Brazilian population in your neighborhood).

        This thread might give you some suggestions of what might suit your palate better:

        1. re: yarm

          JMF is quite correct.

          The main difference is there is never any molasses used, which is very common to rum.

          1. re: yarm

            Your comparison with whiskey is a bit stretched. At the end it is called Scotch Whisky [by the way - Scotch is no whiskey but whisky!]. And Irish and Scotch whiskies were there long before American whiskey.
            Whisk(e)y is an extremely inconsistent and wide variety. There is not only a couple of exceptions. Plus - any whisk(e)y nation called their "thing" whisk(e)y.
            However the Brazilians don't call cachaça 'rum'.

            It is definitely a "problem" which arises, as different people have different "linguistic" and technical priorities. E.g. I am more a "technical" guy, who sees a product from all facets. Others are more pragmatic.

            It is a philosophical question as well - which differences make a whole new product? Rum and cachaça have basically only in common, that the PLANT, which they are sourced from is sugar cane - and that both are distilled. However even the sugar cane product and distillation method varies totally!
            Rhum Agricole? Also a different category [on Martinique they have also Rhum industrielle, which is basically Rum].
            And yes - there are some exceptions to the rule in rum. Basically this happens, when a country is not a "real" rum producing country and doesn't have established laws.

            The difference between rum and cachaça is:
            • Molasses [or other heat reduced sugar cane products] vs. sugar cane juice
            • Distillation of above 79% abv vs. distillation below 55%
            • Mandatory ageing in oak vs. voluntary ageing - oak or domestic rain forrest wood.
            • Dominant aromas of vanilla [brown spice], roast aromas, dried fruits vs. unripe fruit, vegetal aromas, green wood.

          2. re: JMF

            Hey JMF I bought a bottle of Leblon based on your recommendation as I think its too smooth. I like Pitu so far as it has nice rough finish. Any other recommendations on using this premium cachacha?

          3. I have never been impressed with Agua Luca. Lack any flavor. In my area(NC) the best available are Gandaia and Leblon. Gandaia smells horrible but its rough edge is great in a caipirinha. Not sure i have tried any in locally available that would be good for sipping.

            You may not like cachaca which is no crime. Best bet is to try other cachacas in bars or restaurants.

            1. No you certainly are not crazy for picking up on that tequila taste. Be assured there is no tequila in it. It is made from sugar cane juice but it is not aged or when aged is aged for about 1 year tops. I find the taste a cross between rum and tequila. I like it but if my mouth was ready for a sweet aged rum it would be a shock.

              12 Replies
              1. re: scubadoo97

                I have a 3 year old cachaça (Isaura Ouro) and have drank as old as 12 year old (Rochinha). There is a lot of variety out there, but like rum, the aged stuff is for export or for special occasions. Most cachaça in Brazil is unaged or lightly aged.

                1. re: yarm

                  Yes I was speaking of the majority of cachaca found in the US. Most are Industrial and a few for export only. There are many artisan aged brands we will never see

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Which among these would you recommend for Caprinha (I like Pitu so far and have tried Leblon and didn't like it)
                    . CACHACA GUAPIARA
                    . PITU CACHACA
                    . PORTO MORRETES CACHAÇA
                    . WEBER HAUS CACHAÇA

                    1. re: elvisahmed

                      Of your list I've only had Pitu and didn't like it. I have had Leblon and like it better than Pitu. Would love to try the rest on your list

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Thanks for your input guys I just like Cachacha for Caprinas.
                        The list contains all they Sell in Ontario and the other provinces have even less variety so I am pretty much limited to what they sell here due to the monopoly.
                        I bought Rum Toucano Cachaca made by Ypioca and like leblon it was waaay too smooth for Caprinhas. One friend brought 2 bottles of Cachaca from Brazil I can't even recall or Pronounce what its name was but it was a dark brown bottle and was just plain awful and gave me headaches every time drank even a little bit. I had to use it all on party mixing it with sprite and gave the other one away :)

                      2. re: elvisahmed

                        I've had the Pitu and it's a bit harsh and industrial. Probably would make a decent Caipirinha though.

                        We got sent sample bottles of the Cuca Fresca gold and silver. They were pretty decent -- not harsh, but not overly clean and boring. Still had a decent grass funkiness to it.

                        We reviewed the spirits in the link below, but here's an excerpt, "Tasting them straight, the distillers did a good job as both contained the right level of grassy and funky notes without any off or harsh flavors. The gold version had aromas of tropical fruits like banana and coconut from the barrel aging process."


                          1. re: pb n foie

                            Good to know. I was just in the liquor store and they had the Pura on sale for $9.99. Guess I should pick up a bottle.

                          2. re: elvisahmed

                            The best cachaca for caipirinha is VELHO BARREIRO. I'm not sure where you can find here in US, but in Brazil mostly the people makes caipirinha w/velho barreiro, it's cheap and good.

                            1. re: nycbyme

                              Thanks for the link thats the Cachaca I tried that my friends brought from Brazil after I saw the bottle on the website. It just gave me such a headache that I had to give away the other bottle.
                              As for what is availability I am worse off than US (I live in Canada now) and we can only buy what is available at the Gov owned store here due to a monopoly. You can import stuff that they don't sell locally but its cost prohibitive.

                              1. re: nycbyme

                                I think this is very good. If only it were available in the US

                        1. Cachaca isn't rum! Rum is made out of molasses - cachaca is made out of fresh sugar cane juice. Rum is always aged in oak [white rum is then filtrated through active carbon]. Further rum is usually distilled to a much higher degree.
                          Artisan cachaca has a lot of similarities to tequila. Both are shorter aged than rum [however cachaca can also be aged in domestic Brazilian rain forest wood, which gives it a unique aroma]. Both are distilled to a very low alcohol point [which need careful distillation which is lower and slower].

                          There are definitely two main categories: industrial cachaca - most are pretty bad and distilled with adventurous methods [your Cachaca 51, Pitu or other cheapos] - but there are also good ones like Sagatiba and Agua Luca.
                          And then there are artisan cachacas, which are amazing.

                          If you doesn't like it, it doesn't mean, that something is wrong with you or the cachaca. Some don't like tequila. Or gin.

                          I would not say, that Caipirinhas need a cachaca which "has a bite". I really strongly dislike Pitu or other cachaca in its class. But Agua Luca or Sagatiba are definitely ok for the job.

                          25 Replies
                          1. re: opinionated.alchemist

                            Cachaca IS rum, it's just cane rum, like Barbancourt or the Rhum Agricoles of the French Caribbean.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              No it isn't. Analogue grappa isn't brandy!
                              It shares only the base ingredient: sugar cane. But after that the similarities stop. Other sugar cane spirits are: aguadiente, rhum agricole...
                              Rum has following necessary points to cover: made out of molasses (or other heat treated sugar cane juice), has to be always aged in oak barrels for at least 6 years up to 2 years (depending on the country), distilled to a rather high proof (>70% abv). For cachaça not one point is always applying (not by law) - hence it is not a rum!

                              It was only called rum due to the import to the US and the inflexibility of the respective bureau!

                              There are many other examples, that the same base ingredient makes a different end product.
                              By the way, cachaça was in no other country legally called rum besides of the US - and if I am not mistaken, this also is no more applying as it has its own category!

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  Uh oh, Striper. We agree yet again. The end of the world is nigh.

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    Do you owe me a drink... or do I owe you one?

                                2. re: opinionated.alchemist

                                  "Rum has following necessary points to cover: made out of molasses (or other heat treated sugar cane juice), has to be always aged in oak barrels for at least 6 years up to 2 years (depending on the country), distilled to a rather high proof (>70% abv)."

                                  Where did this list come from? Do you have a reference?

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      According to that reference, Pisco is made from pomace. Didn't know that.

                                      Alchemy n.: the process by which opinions are turned to fact ;)

                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                        That I did know as well. I do like a good Pisco Sour.

                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          Hm, that came as a surprise to me, too, especially given the difference in flavor between grappa and pisco.

                                          This reference doesn't agree:


                                          "To make pisco using pomace is illegal and the product that results is contraband, black market pisco."

                                          Nor does this:


                                          "Peruvian Pisco thus has nothing to do with pomace"

                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                            Nearest I can figure is that Chilean Pisco is pomace-based and Peruvian is not. But info is minimal:


                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              Interesting. I don't think I've ever had a Chilean one. Are they readily available in the US?

                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                I have had them with a Chilean buddy. Googling they are available in NY and NJ; not sure if you can get them in MA.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  TSA drank the one my wife brought back (d'oh), but her cousin checked the other one. Mistral, aged, from Chile.

                                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                    Nice of your wife to give a bottle to those poor TSA folks ;-).

                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                          This is ridiculous! It has something to do with the limitation of the English language! Should I say "real" brandy?
                                          The term pomace brandy is very much comparable with terms like apricot brandy [which is not brandy at all - but a fruit liqueur]. Brandy comes from the old brand [which is burning] - that means, it is distilled.

                                          I don't argue here, for the sake of arguing. Off course you can interpret different classifications. But you might think about, what makes sense. If a product is completely different produced, except of the ingredient - we are not talking off the same category. By the way - the Brazilians also producing rum [real rum].

                                          The denomination rum, is unfortunately not internationally protected, but most of the time in the origin countries. And then the points make a lot of sense! You won't find a product out of a country with significant production of rum, which doesn't age their rums, which doesn't make rums out of sugar cane byproducts or which doesn't distill rum rather to a high proof.

                                          Rhum agricoles again is a completely different story. And yes - Haitian rum is even a hybrid.

                                          1. re: opinionated.alchemist

                                            I can find two dozen links including Wikipedia, and various dictionaries all that define grappa as a brandy. It IS after all made from grapes. I would ask you to provide a single definitive source to the contrary?

                                            On the pisco front I know it varies by country and can be made from whole grapes or pomace depending. Remember it was not too long ago that even in Italy Grappa was considered the rough stuff for peasants made from the junk (pomace) leftover after wine making. Jacopo Poli and others changed that perception.

                                    2. re: opinionated.alchemist

                                      Rum can be made from sugar cane juice, such as rhum agricoles from Martinique, other French islands, Cape Verde, and the U.S. including St. George in California which makes a fine and funky example. Also, Privateer Rum in Massachusetts makes their white rum with sugar (cane juice crystals and brown sugar), not molasses.

                                      There are sugar spirits not classified as rum such as sugar beet spirits, but all sugar cane spirits can fall into that category whether they use fresh juice or purified fractions thereof.

                                      All cachaça is rum, but not all rum is cachaça just like not all whiskey is Scotch or Bourbon, but both are definitely whisk(e)ys. The propaganda that Leblon and others put out to get a D.O.C. designation of sorts was effective but misleading.


                                      1. re: yarm

                                        And all tequila is mezcal, but you don't see people putting "mezcal" on tequila bottles. Cachaça has a very particular sense of place (Brazil) and I don't see why it shouldn't be allowed to be labelled cachaça instead of "Brazilian rum".

                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                          And to yarm, please don't confuse Leblon with 'real' cachaca.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            The first time I saw Leblon was on sale at GRU duty-free.

                                            I asked someone I knew in the Commercial Customs agency, and was told that 1.) It was sent to France in bulk-car boy containers to age in wine casks ( " supposedly " ), and that more telling 2.) no true Brasileiro would drink it, as it was created for Gringos.

                                            At the time it was 6x ( the conversion then was 4.8 USD/CHF to 1 R$ ) much more than a decent bottle from Minas sold in town. I passed the opportunity to try it for another 10 years, until a couple brought a nice looking bottle of Leblon to dinner.

                                            I tried a small dram of it straight, before mixing drinks for the group. To my taste buds, it has a wine-cask-ethanol aftertaste. It also has more of a wine nose than that of a good pinga from Minas, or Ceara.

                                            It did make good caipirinhas, which were enjoyed. I'd say that if you have never tried any, or if it is the only pinga that can be found, at least it is a starting point.

                                            One can always do better.

                                            1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                              I have TOO much cachaca as we always bring back a couple of liters :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I have that problem with agave liquor... got a linen closet full, and love them all.

                                                  1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                    Head and shoulders, for me anyway, is the Salinas I mentioned:


                                                    We're away for a couple of weeks so can't check the exact label. But I LOVED it!