You may know it as “Brazilian Rum”, but cachaça is much more than just rum’s cousin. As a matter of fact, it is the third most consumed spirit in the world. Why haven’t you heard of it? Well, that’s on you, kids. But let’s not delay your love for this sugarcane distilled alcohol any longer. Cachaça is delicious with tremendous mixing capabilities, and it’s just breaking its way onto the cocktail scene.
Cachaça was conceived and first consumed 400 years ago in Brazil. In the 15th century, Brazil was the biggest sugar producer in the world. Cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is fermented and distilled. The first use of distilled cachaça was to feed the slaves so they could work without feeling too much pain. However, due to its fantastic taste, cachaça began to be consumed by the masses and became very popular in Brazil in the 16th century.
Just as the grape wine of Peru began to hurt the import of Spanish wine into Peru, spawning the birth of Pisco, the popularity of cachaça was so big that it throated competitive Portuguese products. Therefore, the Portuguese court banned cachaça consumption in many Brazilian states from 1635 to 1639. That didn’t stop distillers from developing new and better methods for producing cachaça, and the spirit started to appear on the finest tables in colonial Brazil. In 1808, when Brazil was close to independence from Portugal, cachaça was one of the most important products of the Brazilian economy.
Currently, cachaça is exported to and available in countries all over the world and has become a staple in the cocktail world. But its popularity lies mostly in its home country. Brazil produces and consumes around 400 million gallons of cachaca every year, and only four million gallons are exported. That’s a whole lot of caipirinhas.