Cachaça (sugar cane brandy)


Its name may have come from the old Iberian language – cachaza – meaning lees wine, an inferior wine drunk in Portugal and Spain, or from “cachaço”, the pig, and its female “cachaça”, the sow. This is because the meat of the wild pigs, found in the forests of all Brazil – the so-called caititus – was very hard and the cachaça was used to soften it. In colonial sugar production, “cachaça” was the name given to the first foam that rose to the surface of the sugarcane juice that was being boiled.

It was supplied to the animals or discarded. The second foam was consumed by the slaves, mainly after it fermented and was also called cachaça. Later, with the distillation of the fermented foam and molasses and the production of low quality brandy, it became also called cachaça and was supplied to slaves or acquired by people of low income.

Cachaça, pinga, sugar cane or caninha is the sugar cane brandy produced in Brazil. It is used in the preparation of the world known “caipirinha” cocktail.

It is obtained through fermentation and distillation of sugarcane juice or molasses.


Cachaça is a drink of great cultural, social and economic importance for Brazil, and is directly related to the beginning of the Portuguese colonization of the country and to the sugar activity, which, because it is based on the same raw material as cachaça, made it possible to establish the cachaceiros establishments.

The first sugarcane plantation known in Brazil was made in 1504 by Fernão de Noronha on the island that bears his name. And there are references that the first sugar mill was built in 1516, at the Feitoria de Itamaracá, created by King Dom Manuel I of Portugal on the coast of the current state of Pernambuco and entrusted to the colonial administrator Pero Capico – the first “Governor of the Parties of Brazil”. In the 1530s, the first Portuguese donatários began ventures in the lands of Portuguese America, especially in the captaincies of Pernambuco and São Vicente, implementing sugar mills. Thus, in the new Portuguese colony, the first settlement and agriculture nuclei appeared. Although there is no precise record of where the first distillation of cachaça was initiated, it can be said that it took place in Brazilian territory, in some coastal mill, between the years 1516 and 1532, being therefore the first distillate in Latin America.

The initial generation of Portuguese settlers in Brazil appreciated the Portuguese bagaceira and port wine. Like food, much of the drink was imported from the Portuguese metropolis. Under such circumstances, sugar cane wine was discovered in some sugar mill, which is the result of fermented sugar cane juice, as well as by-products of sugar production, such as foams and molasses mixed with water. It is a “clean” drink, compared to cauim – wine produced by the Indians, in which everyone spits in a huge clay pot to help the manioc fermentation. The lords of engenho start to serve this stock, called cagaça, to the slaves. In 1584, the Memorial of Gabriel Soares de Sousa makes references to “eight houses of cooking honeys” in Bahia. From the mid-16th century to the mid-17th century, the “houses of baking honeys” multiplied. Initially, “casa de cozer méis” was the name given to sugar mills and, later, it was also applied to cachaça stills. In 1637, the German naturalist George Marcgraf, of Count Maurício de Nassau’s entourage, took to Pernambuco the first boiler for the production of sugar cane molasses.

The first historical records of cachaça coincide with rum in the English possessions in the Americas, of aguardiente de caña in the Spanish and tafia in the French. That is, the cachaça, the rum, the aguardiente de caña and the tafia were all created from the same by-products of sugar production: molasses and foams. Cachaça becomes currency for the purchase of slaves in Africa. Some mills start to divide the production between sugar and cachaça. The discovery of gold in Minas Gerais brings a large population of migrants from all corners of the country who build cities on the cold mountains of the Espinhaço Mountain. The cachaça softens the temperature.

Bothered by the fall of the Portuguese wine and bagaceira trade in the colony and alleging that the Brazilian drink hinders the removal of gold from the mines, the Court prohibits, from 1635 on several occasions, the production, marketing and even consumption of cachaça. Without results, the Portuguese metropolis decides to tax the distillate. In 1756, sugar cane brandy was one of the genres that contributed most to the reconstruction of Lisbon, destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755. For cachaça, several taxes known as subsidies, such as literary, are created to maintain the Court’s faculties.

With the passing of time, production techniques are improved. The cachaça is appreciated by all. It is consumed at palace banquets and mixed with ginger and other ingredients at Portuguese religious festivals – the famous quentão. Due to its low value and association with the lower classes (first the slaves; then the poor and miserable), cachaça has always had a marginal aura. However, in the last decades, its international recognition has contributed to diluting the rate of rejection of the Brazilians themselves, raising a status of chic and exquisite drink, worthy of the most demanding palates.

The total number of cachaça producers in Brazil in 2011 reached 40,000, of which only about 5,000 (12%) are duly registered. Because it is a popular drink that has been following the Brazilian people for centuries, it is known by countless synonyms, such as: abre, abrideira, abençoada, aca, a-do-ó, aço, água-benta, água-bruta, água-de-briga, água-de-cana, água-que-gato-não-bebe, água-que-passarinho-não-bebe, aguardente, aguardente de cana, aguarrás, águas-de-setembro, alpista, aninha, arrebenta-peito, assovio-de-cobra, azougue, azuladinha, azulzinha, bagaceira, baronesa, bicha, bico, boas, borgulhante, boresca, branca, branquinha, brasa, brasileira, caiana, calibrina, cambraia, cana, cândida, canguara, caninha, canjebrina, canjica, capote-de-pobre, catuta, caxaramba, caxiri, caxirim, cobreira, corta-bainha, cotreia, cumbe, cumulaia, amnésia, birita, codório, conhaque brasileiro, da boa, delas-frias, danada, dengosa, desmancha-samba, dindinha, dona-branca, ela, elixir, engasga-gato, divina, espevitada, de-pé-de-balcão, do balde, espírito, esquenta-por-dentro, filha-de-senhor-de-engenho, fruta, gás, girgolina, fava de cheiro, fia do sinhô de engenho, gasolina de garrafa, geribita, goró, gororoba, gramática, guampa, homeopatia, imaculada, já-começa, januária, jeribita, jurubita, jinjibirra, junça, jura, legume, limpa, lindinha, lisa, maçangana, malunga, mavalda, mamãe-de-aluana, mamãe-de-aruana, mamãe-de-luana, mamãe-de-luanda, mamãe-sacode, lambida, levanta velho, lisa, malta, mandureba, mundureba, marafo, maria-branca, mata-bicho, meu-consolo, minduba, miscorete, moça-branca, monjopina, montuava, morrão, morretiana, óleo, orontanje, otim, panete, patrícia, perigosa, pevide, piloia, piribita, porongo, prego, pura, purinha, mé, néctar dos deuses, oleosa, parati, pitu, preciosa, queima-goela, quebra-goela, quebra-munheca, rama, remédio, restilo, retrós, roxo-forte, samba, sete-virtudes, sinhaninha, sinhazinha, sipia, siúba, sumo-da-cana, suor-de-alambique, supupara, tafiá, teimosa, terebintina, refrigério da filosofia, rum brasileiro, salinas, semente de arenga, suor de alambique, terebintina, tinguaça, tira-teima, tiúba, tome-juízo, três-martelos, não-sei-quê, veneno, xinapre, zuninga, uca, uma que matou o guarda, vinho de cana, vocação, ypióca etc. Its synonyms are more than 2,000 and cachaça is undoubtedly the word with the most synonyms in the Portuguese language and perhaps in any other language.

Currently, several good quality brands appear in national and international trade and are present in the best restaurants and wineries in Brazil and the world.

Large Scale Cachaça Production

In 1756, the first industrialized brandy in Brazil was born in Pernambuco: the cachaça Monjopina, sold in a sealed bottle.

Almost two centuries later, with the development of the Brazilian industrial park from the first half of the 20th century, the by-products of the sugar mills, which were previously used in the manufacture of cachaça, began to be used in other areas as supplements for animal fodder, organic fertilization, making molds in the foundry industry and refractories, to give consistency to cardboard and ice cream shells, in addition to their jobs in alcohol chemistry, cosmetics, beverages and the pharmaceutical and paint and varnish industries. The adoption of alcohol as a fuel, mainly from the 1970’s on, implied a total shortage of raw material for cachaça producers. They were forced to plant sugarcane and obtain cachaça from fermented sugarcane juice.

The production process begins with the choice of the appropriate sugar cane variety and its planting. Depending on the region, there are varieties that best adapt to the geoclimatic conditions, besides the care in planting with early, medium and late ripening cane variety, aiming to harvest this raw material always at the right point in the different months of production. As for sugarcane harvesting, the burning of the clown is not indicated because, besides the environmental consequences, the previous burning of the cane results in the increase of the furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural compound in the final drink; both are carcinogenic compounds and their sum cannot exceed 5 mg/100 mL AA.

During the sugarcane milling process, it is important to analyze the juice extraction efficiency, which should be close to 92% in three-axis mills. Still during the milling process, it is important to use a filter to collect the berries present in the juice, since these, when they reach the fermentation process, result in an increase in the methanol content. It is also important to correct the Brix, or sugar content in the juice, for values between 16 and 18° Brix, aiming at a greater efficiency of the fermentation process.

Cane juice is composed of water (85 to 95%), ethyl alcohol (4 to 12%), lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, the esters of these acids, glycerine, the higher alcohols (the propyl, isopropyl, butyl, isobutyl, amyl, isoamyl), furfural (pyromucic aldehyde), sugars, nitrogenous materials, berries, yeast cells, bacteria, etc.

The fermentation process is undoubtedly the most important for the quality of the final product. Fermentation occurs through the action of yeasts, mainly Saccharomyces cerevisae, a yeast that presents the best resistance to high alcoholic levels. The sugarcane juice destined for fermentation is called must.

It is in this process that the transformation of glucose into ethanol and other secondary compounds such as butanol, isobutanol, ethyl acetate (beneficial to taste) and acetic acid, propanol, acetaldehyde etc. occurs. (harmful to the taste of the beverage). The accurate control of this stage, such as temperature monitoring (between 28 and 33 °C), pH (between 4.5 and 5.5), yeast count, fermentation time and excessive bubble formation is fundamental for the efficiency of the process. The fermentation process lasts about 24 hours, and the content of soluble solids is indicative of the end of the process. The asepsis of this process is essential, since bacterial contamination can result in undesirable compounds in the final product.

Then, the distillation process is performed, when the Brix equals zero. If there are still sugars present in the must, the oxidation of these compounds during distillation will also result in the formation of furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural. The distillation process may be carried out in copper or stainless steel stills (handcrafted production) or in distillation columns (industrial production), in the former a better separation of the compounds occurs, producing a cachaça with fewer secondary compounds when compared to the industrial cachaça. During distillation, three fractions are collected: head (15% of the distilled volume), heart (60% of the distilled volume) and tail (15% of the distilled volume). The composition of each fraction is correlated with the boiling temperature of the compounds present in the must. The head fraction is rich in methanol and acids, and should not be sold or used for consumption. In the heart fraction the main and most desirable compounds are collected in the brandy. In the tail fraction, also called fusel oil or caxixi, the compounds with high boiling temperatures are found.

The cachaça obtained from the heart fraction can be marketed after the maturation period (three months) or be aged in wood casks for a minimum period of one year.

During the aging process, the original characteristics of the cachaça are modified, depending on the wood with which the barrel is manufactured. In oak, sassafras and umburana barrels there is an increase in alcohol content, while in ipê, grapia and jequitibá barrels there is a decrease. In barrels of some woods such as peanut, jequitibá and blond-freijó, the color of the cachaça is not changed. In barrels of cabreúva, chestnut, cedar, ipê-amarelo and jatobá the drink acquires a yellowish tone. In barrels of sassafras, the tone turns brown, and in vinhático it turns gold yellow.

Cachaças stored at high ambient temperatures tend to present greater evaporation, the same occurring when the humidity is low. The environment where the containers are located (barrels or casks) should present relative humidity of the air around 73% and temperature between 9 and 15°C. The height of the place must be 4 meters or higher, the clay tiles and the walls and stone floor. It can also be underground. To keep the humidity high, running water can circulate in ditches or constantly wet the environment and the barrels. Better quality cachaça can be obtained by mixing drinks of different ages.

The cachaça was traditionally transported in wooden barrels. Only in the beginning of the XIX century there are the first news of cachaça in bottles and liters of glass. It is not known if they were reused containers of imported or locally manufactured beverages, since Brazil had a glass factory again in 1810 (and that would last until 1825), in Bahia – almost 200 years after the first glass workshop in Brazil, which existed in Pernambuco during the Dutch occupation. However, the mandatory use of glass containers was imposed only at the end of the 1930’s, with the Decree-Law 739 of September 24, 1938. In it the commercialization of the beverage was only allowed to duly registered producers and it had to be packed in containers of, at most, one liter and to have affixed a label with information about the producer and the beverage.

Composition of Cachaça

More than 300 substances enter the composition of cachaça, of which ninety-eight percent (98 percent) consist of water and ethanol. The remaining two percent (2%), the secondary compounds, are those that give the drink its organoleptic characteristics. The substances contained in the must, extracted from the sugarcane straw, suffer reactions between themselves and as a result of the processes of fermentation, distillation and aging.

Composition of the Sugarcane Hem

Values in g/100g:

  • Water 65,0-75,0; sugars 12,0 to 18,0 (sucrose, glucose and fructose); fibers 7,0-17,0 (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin); nitrogenous compounds 0,3-0,6; lipids 0,15-0,25 (fats and waxes); organic acids 0,1-0,15; pectic substances and gums 0,15-0,25; ashes 0,3-0,8.

Wort Composition

  • Wort, or sugarcane juice, or garapa, is a complex mixture containing 80% water and 20% soluble solids. In this case it is being admitted that the milling and filtration of the must have eliminated non-soluble solids such as berries and other impurities. Soluble solids include sugars and non-sugar solids.

Sucrose 18%, glucose 0,4% and fructose 0,1%

Non Organic Sugars

Proteins, fats, waxes, pectins, free acids, combined acids (malic, succinic, aconitic, oxalic, fumaric, etc.) and coloring substances (chlorophyll, anticianine and saccharetin)

Non Inorganic Sugars

Ashes: silica, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, aluminum, chlorine, etc.

Composition of Fermented Wort

During the fermentation of the must its components are transformed into ethanol, carbonic gas, glycerin and secondary compounds. The variety and quantity of these will determine if the cachaça will be of good quality or not.

Ethanol, carbon dioxide, glycerine, carboxylic acids, methanol, esters, aldehydes and higher alcohols are formed by the action of yeasts on the sugars present in the must.

The presence of a small amount of organic acids is beneficial for the drink, while in large quantities it causes an undesirable, aggressive taste. Acetic acid, present in cachaça, is produced by the yeasts themselves that cause fermentation or by contaminating acetic bacteria. The oxaloacetic, citric, pyruvic, malic and maleic acids are the result of yeast metabolism. The yeasts excrete to the environment the acids that are of no use to them, such as butyric, caproic, caprylic and carpric.

At the beginning of fermentation, acetaldehyde and other aldehydes are produced by the yeasts and the quantity of them decreases as the process progresses. With the partial degradation of amino acids higher alcohols are formed. These react with oxygen, producing other aldehydes. The production of aldehydes is also increased when aeration occurs during fermentation.

The superior alcohols, or fusel oil, are formed by the degradation of amino acids such as d-amyl alcohol from d-leucine, l-leucine isoamyl and valine isobutyl. Some are formed during the sugar metabolism inside the yeast. The formation of higher alcohols is increased by the pH of the must and the aeration and temperature of the must during fermentation.

The ester, like ethyl acetate, which gives cachaça a fruity flavor, is the result of the reaction between ethanol and acetic acid. The presence of soil micronutrients, such as zinc, which are absorbed by the plant, favor the formation of esters.

Acid or enzymatic hydrolysis reactions that occur during fermentation release the methanol, attached to galacturonic acid, which constitutes the pectin. It is extremely toxic to humans.

Ethyl carbamate, the ethyl ester of carbamic acid, is formed by the reaction of ethanol with some nitrogenous compounds, a reaction that is influenced by factors such as temperature, pH, light and storage time. It is considered carcinogenic.

Distillate Composition

  • The distillation allows the separation of volatile substances (water, ethanol, methanol, acetic acid, higher alcohols, esters, aldehydes, carbonic gas) from non-volatile substances (yeast cells, minerals, organic and inorganic acids).
  • The reactions that occur during the distillation of the must are: hydrolysis, esterification, acetalization, reactions with copper, furfural production, etc.
  • The types and quantities of secondary compounds that will form depend:
    • of the particularities of fermented cane juice
    • of which cutting fractions will be carried out in distillation
    • of the type and size of the apparatus used in distillation
    • of the material from which the device is made
    • the cleaning of the appliance
  • Some secondary compounds with much higher boiling points than alcohol or water may appear in the distillate. This is because once they are in low concentrations in the fermented must, their chance of associating with each other is much lower than with alcohol or water, present in relatively high concentrations. In this way, they evaporate at the boiling point of the alcohol or water.
  • Acetaldehyde and ethyl acetate have a low boiling point, 21 °C and 77 °C, respectively, and are found in high concentration in the head fraction. They can also be found at the beginning of the heart fraction.
  • Fatty acids and their esters, even though they have a high boiling point, can appear in the head and heart because they are soluble in alcohol. Some examples are ethyl caprilate (208°C), ethyl caprate (244°C), ethyl laurate (269°C), ethyl caproate (166.5°C) and isoamyl acetate (137.5°C).
  • Methanol (65.5 °C) and the higher alcohols 1-propanol, isobutanol, 2-methyl-butanol and 3-methyl-butanol because they are soluble in alcohol and partially in water are found in the head and heart.
  • Acetic acid (110 °C), 2-phenyl-ethanol, ethyl lactate and diethyl succinate, even if they boil above water, begin to distil in half of the heart fraction because they are totally or partially water soluble.
  • The furfural (167 °C), being very soluble in water, is found in the heart and tail fractions.
  • When the sugarcane juice presents organic substances in suspension, these can be deposited on the bottom of the distiller apparatus and their burning originates furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural.
  • The part of the distillate head concentrates the largest amount of aldehydes, which are not desirable, and also esters, which are desirable. It is therefore difficult to prevent aldehydes from migrating to the heart or esters from remaining in the head.
  • The reaction of ethanol with nitrogen compounds results in the formation of ethyl carbamate, which can occur before, during and after distillation.

Some components of cachaça are:

1,4-butanediol; 2-phenyl-ethanol; 2-methyl-butanol; 3-methyl-butanol; acetaldehyde; ethyl acetate; isoamyl acetate; methyl acetate; methyl acetate; propyl acetate; acetone; acetic acid; butyric acid; carpric acid; caprylic acid; lauric acid; water; 2-phenylethyl alcohol; amyl alcohol; butyl alcohol; cetyl alcohol; cinnamic alcohol; ethyl alcohol; isoamyl alcohol; isobutyl alcohol; isopropyl alcohol; methyl alcohol; n-propyl alcohol; propyl alcohol; sec-butyl alcohol; acetic aldehyde; benzaldehyde; ethyl benzoate; propyl butyrate; ethyl caprrate; ethyl caprylate; ethyl carbamate; copper; formaldehyde; furfural; geraniol; glycerin; ethyl heptanoate; hydroxymethylfurfural; iamyl; i-butanol; isobutanol; ethyl lactate; ethyl laurate; menthol; methanol; n-butanol; n-butyraldehyde; n-dodecanol; n-propanol; n-tetradecanol; propanol; amyl propionate; methyl propionate; diethyl succinate; tannin; valeraldehyde; isoamyl valerate

Rest And Aging

  • During the rest period, or maturation of the cachaça, which lasts from three to six months, oxidation of aldehydes occurs, responsible for the strong odor that disturbs the nasal passages.
  • During the aging of the cachaça can occur in the interaction between the drink and the wood from which the container is made:
    • removal of substances by evaporation, adsorption or interaction with wood
    • incorporation of wood substances by cachaça
    • oxidation of substances released by cachaça
  • There are also other chemical, physical and sensory transformations:
    • chemical interactions of distillation substances with each other
    • ethanol reacts with oxygen
    • phenolic acids are formed from the oxidation of aldehydes
    • formation of phenolic acids due to the decomposition of hemicellulose and cellulose monomers
    • Pleasant aromas appear in the beverage due to the formation of phenolic esters, as a result of reactions between alcohol and phenolic acids
    • increased viscosity and oiliness of the beverage
    • color change, depending on the type of wood with which the container is made.
  • In the case of aged cachaça, the hemicellulose and other pentoses and their polymers when degraded by acids also generate the furfural.
  • When there are micro interactions during cachaça ageing, aldehydes are converted into their corresponding acids, the same occurring with phenolic aldehydes from the vat wood. If the beverage is stored for more than one year, the esterification of these acids with ethanol starts.

Vinhaça Composition

The vinasse, a byproduct of the distillation of fermented must, is composed approximately of Organic matter (23.44 kg/m3), N (0.28 kg/m3), P2O5 (0.20 kg/m3), K2O (1.47 km/m3), CaO (0.46 km/m3), MgO (0.29 kg/m3), SO2 (1.32 kg/m3), Fe (69.00 ppm), Cu (7.00 ppm), Zn (2.00 ppm) and Mn (7.00 ppm). pH 3.70.

Waste Generation and Utilization

During the cachaça production process, the following residues are generated: cane tip, vinhoto and bagasse.

The sugarcane tip can be used in silage for animal feed. The bagasse is rich in fiber, but not very nutritious, especially if the milling process was efficient. The indicated is to use it after dry, in boilers as a substitute for part of the wood, or even for the production of handmade artifacts.

Besides its use as fuel for boilers and electric power generation, sugarcane bagasse has been used in cattle feed, in the removal of pollutants from water, in the production of ligninocellulolytic enzymes, in the substitution of sand in civil construction, in the making of luminaries, in the production of fertilizers, as a substrate in the cultivation of orchid seedlings, in the production of fiber cement, second generation ethanol, particle plates, briquettes, as an asphalt additive and in the making of carbon nanotubes.

Vinasse is commonly used as fertilizer and also in biogas production in some distilleries. However, this byproduct should in no way be thrown into rivers or water beds without prior treatment because it is highly polluting. The cachaça can be redistilled for ethanol production, but it is not advisable to return this product to the distiller to be reprocessed.

Vinasse, vinasse, tiborna or restilo also prove to be a good alternative to be used in the composting of agroindustrial residues, in the preparation of alcoholic fermentation vats, as an additive in poultry diet as a substrate for the production of protein and lipid biomass by yeasts and bacteria, to treat pollutants in the textile industry, in the production of biogas (methane) and for the production of biodiesel.

Legislation in Brazil

According to Decree 4 851 of 2003, Article 92 says the following about cachaça:

“Cachaça is the typical and exclusive name for sugarcane brandy produced in Brazil, with alcoholic strength from thirty-eight to forty-eight percent by volume, at twenty degrees Celsius (°C), obtained by the distillation of fermented sugarcane must with peculiar sensory characteristics, which may be added up to six grams of sugars per liter, expressed in sucrose.”

The basic regulatory text edited by the Brazilian Government to discipline the production and marketing of cachaça in Brazil is the Normative Instruction No. 13, of June 29, 2005, downloaded by the Minister of Agriculture and published in the Official Gazette of June 30, 2006. IN nº13/2005, as it is known, “Approves the Technical Regulation for Setting Identity and Quality Standards for Cane Brandy and Cachaça”.

According to this Technical Regulation, “cachaça is the typical and exclusive name of sugar cane brandy produced in Brazil, with alcoholic graduation of 38% vol. (thirty-eight percent by volume) to 48% vol. (forty-eight percent by volume) at 20°C (twenty degrees Celsius), obtained by distillation of fermented sugarcane juice with peculiar sensory characteristics, which may be added up to 6 g/l (six grams per liter), expressed in sucrose” and “Aguardente de Cana” is the beverage with alcoholic graduation of 38% vol. (thirty eight percent by volume) to 54% vol. (fifty-four percent by volume) at 20°C (twenty degrees Celsius), obtained from the simple alcoholic distillate of sugarcane or by the distillation of the fermented must of sugarcane juice, and may be added up to 6 g/l (six grams per liter) sugars, expressed as sucrose”.

National Cachaça Day

In June 2009, at the 12th Expocachaça, the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça (IBRAC) made it official on September 13th as National Cachaça Day.


Tasting is an evaluation that is made of the cachaça to stipulate whether it is good or bad. It consists of a visual examination of the cachaça in the bottle and in the glass, followed by the olfactory examination and then the taste of the drink.

Exam in the bottle:

  • The bottle must present a label containing data about the producer, alcoholic graduation, production stamp and date of bottling.
  • It should be shaken lightly so that the formation of a necklace (circle of small bubbles) is observed in the bottle neck.
  • The liquid must be free of solid or viscous particles.

Exam in the glass:

  • In the glass, the liquid must be clean, that is, transparent and free of particles.
  • It must be bright and not opaque. The gloss can be bright, limpid, veiled, opaque or cloudy.
  • The color can be yellow, golden, amber or white, when the cachaça is not aged or in barrels that do not alter the color of the drink.
  • The viscosity, that is, the presence of glycerol, can be observed by slightly shaking the glass in circular movements. From the top of the glass where the liquid has reached, “tears” begin to flow. The slower the tears slide, the higher the viscosity.

Olfactory examination:

First, one approaches the nostrils with the cachaça at rest, covers one of them and inspires with the other. If it “burns”, it means presence of high alcohol content. Then, the glass is lightly shaken so that subtle aromas are released and it is inspired with both nostrils. Finally, the glass must be shaken vigorously so that other aromas are released.

The types of aroma are:

  • Primary (from sugar cane)
  • Secondary (released by the esters in fermentation)
  • Tertiary (released by wood during aging – should not exist in non-aged cachaças).

The characteristics of the aromas are:

  • Intensity: aroma varying from subtle to imperceptible.
  • Fineness: aroma varying from remarkable, pleasant and rude.
  • Nature: it is the analogy with aromas known as pepper, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, anise, fennel, etc..
  • Persistence: it is the time interval in which the aroma sensation remains in the olfactory memory.

Main aromas:

  • Alcoholic: must be moderate
  • Fruity: when it reminds the aroma of pleasant fruits.
  • Acid: must be discreet, not causing excessive production of saliva.
  • Sweetened: it should be moderate, not prevailing over the aroma of the fruit.
  • Strange: as mold aroma, wet paper, acre, sulfates, etc., which demonstrates the presence of undesirable components.

Some undesirable aromas and probable causes:

Not acceptable:

  • Vinegar: acetic acid
  • Varnish: Ethyl acetate
  • Decomposing egg: sulfidric acid
  • Geranium: sorbic acid

Acceptable when light:

  • Metallic: Acetaldehydes
  • Cheese or sauerkraut: lactic acid
  • Burnt phosphorus: sulphurous anhydride
  • Mold or mildew: various sulfates

Taste test:

This exam confirms or not the sensations left by the olfactory exam. A small amount of the cachaça is placed in the mouth and revolves it with the tongue, so that it reaches all the parts of the mouth and tongue. The aim is to identify the aromas caused by the olfactory exam. Then the liquid is ingested.

The characteristics obtained with this examination are:

  • Structure: sensation of taste or bitterness indicates a bad quality drink. The good cachaça leaves a velvety sensation.
  • Acidity: if the tendency is to make a face like when eating lemon or drinking vinegar, it is an indication that the cachaça is of bad quality.
  • Alcohol: bad quality cachaça causes a burning sensation in the mouth and throat.
  • Encorpo: it is the sensation that something full-bodied has passed through the mouth, as if it were a syrup.

Source: Wikipedia


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