Carnival Spirit

Accelerating growth will require greater sales and marketing activities from the individual cachaça brands, according to Luttmann. But, patience is required. “It will require time and investment to grow. The category is growing consistently internationally 5% to 7%, with the premium alambique segments growing at a faster rate than the industrial price cachaças,” he says.

Avua Cachaca’s Whitehouse says recognition of the spirit has created a strong tailwind for the growth of cachaça. “Prior to the recognition of cachaça, most even high-end bartenders considered cachaça to be simply a rum from Brazil, rather than being a spirit with specific flavour profiles and a history that predates molasses-based rums by more than 100 years.”

Kelly-Rappa seconds this: “After being recognised not just as a Brazilian rum, as it was previously categorised, there has been more appreciation for the cachaça category as a whole. Being recognised as its own category is an essential piece in assuming a significant role in the spirits landscape in the United States.”

A key to unlocking the US and other international markets might be having a ritual or signature drink.

In much the same way that tequila has the Margarita, cachaça has the Caipirinha.

“The Caipirinha is just another reason cachaça will become prevalent internationally,” says Luttmann. “Cachaça is very versatile and plays especially well with fruit and fruit juices. Aged cachaças also function very similarly to whiskeys – they are great neat, on the rocks, and also in cocktails. So the future of the category definitely doesn’t depend upon the Caipirinha.”

Kelly-Rappa says she expects word to travel fast about cachaça and the Caipirinha. “It is quite possible this cocktail could become as ubiquitous as the Margarita in a much shorter time frame.”

If word gets out and stays out, can the Brazilian spirit repeat the success of tequila?

Hubertine Underberg Ruder, Underberg chairman, is bullish: “Yes, it can – and in mature markets for cachaça, such as Germany, it already has done so.”

Kelly-Rappa concurs: “If you look at the key factors that made the tequila category explode in the US, it is incredible how many parallels there are between the two categories.

“If history is any indication, the Rio 2016 Olympics will play a pivotal role in causing the cachaça category to reach its tipping point in the US.”

Fabrizio Sassoli de Bianchi is a little more cautious. He says: “Tequila success is due to the creation of a ritual to consume it: the tequila Boom Boom.

“I believe if something similar is created for cachaça, in addition to creating new cocktails it will certainly help in spreading its popularity.”

Whitehouse says the strong parallels between tequila and cachaça will only aid its trajectory.

“There are strong similarities in terms of a category in which value brands were the only available offerings in tequila prior to 1990, followed by the entrance of very high-quality, well-branded spirits in the 1990s, and the current state of cachaça today outside of Brazil, which has been principally value offerings until the recent entrance of high-quality cachaças such as Avuá, Novo Fogo, and Leblon in the US, or Avuá, Abelha, or Leblon in Europe.”

Parallels can also be drawn when it comes to the challenges tequila faced with consistency of product and message. The variation in quality across the cachaça category is a challenge that makes it difficult for a consistent message, says Hal Stockley, director of Abelha Cachaça.