Despite its well-documented environmental and social problems, Brazil still has an exciting and intriguiging image across the world. The country is renowned for its soccer prowess, its fine beaches and spectacular annual carnival.
However, its national drink cachaca has not enjoyed the same international success, and has not been able to become synonymus with the country as Cuba has with rum, Chile and Peru with pisco, and Russia and Poland with vodka.
There are signs that Brazilian distillers are beginning to stir from their slumbers and to make efforts to conquer world markets. Germany is an unqualified success, and hopefully others will follow in quick succession. Caipirinha, a classically simple cocktail
(½ glass crushed ice, ½ lime , wedged, 2 tsp sugar, 2 oz Cachaca . Fill glass with ice, mix cachaca and sugar, pour over ice. Garnish with lime wedge).
Cachaca is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice, at 40%ABV or lower and generally bottled shortly after distillation. It lends itself well for all kinds of tropical juice and fruit based cocktails. It possesses a more glowing sugar cane character and taste than rum/Brazilians and other South Americans consume some 1.3 billion litres a year, remarkable for regular liquor.
Production began in the State of Sao Paulo in the 16th century when the government commissioned the Portuguese colonizer Martin Affonso de Souza to establish a sugar agribusiness; cuttings of sugar cane from Madeira were used. Like rum, the liquor became integral in the slave trade, and later a symbol of Brazilian national identity in the fight for independence from Portugal
In North America, particularly the USA, always ready for a new, exciting drink, it has yet to gain notoriety. This is due to the BATF treating Cachaca as rum and taxing accordingly, thus making it expensive.
Lack of marketing efforts is another contributing factor. In addition, fewer Americans travel to Brazil than Caribbean and Mexico, whereas young Germans prefer Brazil to other tropical destinations.
Pirassununga 51 better known as Cachaca 51 is
one of the world’s leading spirit brands, and virtually omnipresent in all Brazilian bars, cafes, restaurants and “stands”.
Pitu de Ouro, the second most popular Cachaca brand, is very popular in Germany because it is well marketed by its German importer Underberg – a huge drink producer and marketer.
Coral, another brand, with a distinctive labels is much more expensive than Cachaca 51 and Pitu, because it aged at least six months.
Pirapora, produces in the State Minas Gerais, the heartland of high quality, Cachaca by Minas Cachaca cooperative, is gaining market share because it is aged in various native woods, including amendoim wood for three years. Such long aging is the exception to the rule and was established by the Association of producers of High Quality Cachaca (AMPAQ) in 1988 in an effort to distinguish their product form other more mundane competitors.
Cachaca Da Roca, is popular in Paraguay, Bolivia, Japan and Germany, another product, has gained significant market share both in Germany and the United Kingdom.
The majority of consumers confuse cachaca with pisco, the other South American liquor popular in Chile, Peru and Bolivia.