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Popular Spirit Cachaça Produced All Over Brazil, with Regional Differences

02/17/2016 - 09h07

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MARÍLIA MIRAGAIA
REPORTS FOR FOLHA

While the Brazilian spirit cachaça is often associated with the town of Paraty, in Rio de Janeiro, and the state of Minas Gerais, it was in fact born in 1516 in what is today Pernambuco, according to the records of a distillery in Itamaracá.

Over time, the production of marvada (just one of hundreds of types of cachaça) spread throughout virtually the whole country.

Divulgação
Turismo 10.09.2014 - Barris de cachaça na fazenda Guaraciaba, em Minas (Foto: Press Release)
What provides cachaça with its color is its contact with wood in storage.

The ranking of the 50 best brands, compiled by the group Cúpula da Cachaça, which was published at the end of January, exemplifies this diversity. In the top ten there are brands from states which are not traditionally associated with the spirit, such as Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul.

For Felipe Jannuzzi, the man behind the Mapa da Cachaça, a project which travelled the country visiting distilleries, some of the main differences are the sugarcane used, the production process, ageing and the volume of alcohol.

What provides cachaça with its color is its contact with wood in storage. The color may vary from a kind of pale straw tone to dark amber; this is determined by the size of the barrel, type of wood and length of storage.

The southern state of Rio Grande do Sul has excelled making cachaça according to "modern techniques", explains Jannuzzi, with the use of selected yeast, temperature controls during fermentation and the monitoring of the cachaça once it has aged.

As a result, it is common to find well-aged cachaças of a lower alcohol content than elsewhere. This makes for a more easy-going drink, with the wood bringing other flavors to the palette, such as caramel, vanilla and dry fruit.

In Paraná, which is home to the number one cachaça on the list, Porto Morretes Premium, the business is dominated by small producers, many of them family-run businesses, according to Fábio Marquardt, a cachaça sommelier and owner of a Curitiba consulting firm.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE
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