Brazil in a Bottle

With Diageo settled down to business with Ypióca, the category has been given a boost. “The growing involvement of large international companies such as Diageo as direct and expressive stakeholders in the process of reinventing cachaça is positive,” says Ribeiro. “Their technical, administrative and marketing actions have already contributed to the sector’s pursuit of higher standards of quality and compliance.”

Diageo is one of many that saw the Brazilian light. “It’s really starting to heat up,” says Luttmann. “There are now a slew of Cachaça brands coming into the market, all of which will increase the interest and enthusiasm in the category.” 

But, as Bossa’s Gomes points out, opportunity can be indiscriminate. “Just look at how even some Scotch whisky is now being dressed in Brazil’s colours to get a piece of Brazil. If that’s not a clear indication that Brazil sells, then I don’t know what would suffice.”

Brand Brazil in 2014 probably doesn’t require the country to win the World Cup like it did in 1950. In marketing terms, campaigns might last a year or more and aren’t purely reliant on what happens when men run around in long socks. For cachaça – and its star-player Caipirinha cocktail – to sell well during and after the tournament, the creation of a strong Brazilian buzz has to help, but really it is the hosting of the tournament that matters. 

“The fact that the World Cup is in Brazil will be the major driver here, and it’s more important the games themselves are competitive and entertaining,” says Luttmann. “No question that having the Brazilian team going ‘all the way’ would be an added plus for us, but the destination is the 80/20 here.”

The last time we were here, Brazil’s colours were not the yellow, green and blue that have become so iconic even Scotch brand Ballantine’s feels the incongruous need to use them. But so much has changed since Brazil’s national catastrophe, not least the five World Cup wins that came outside its borders and its march to modernity within them. 

That said, victory is expected. Just asked a Brazilian: “In 1950 we were a small country – it is much different and the Brazilian people are different,” says Gonçalves. “The silence of the Maracanã that day will not be repeated. If Brazil gets to the final, they will win.”

* Thanks to Alex Bellos’ Futebol, The Brazilian Way of Life, which provided the historical facts and quotes for this feature.