Cachaça: One trick pony?

Cachaça is a tough one. with so many other white spirits to choose from, why bother with this Brazilian rum variant, asks Christian Davis


CACHAÇA’S GREAT plus in the white spirits battle for share of throat is that it is the essential ingredient of one of the world’s classic cocktails, the Caipirinha. On that basis alone, the Brazilian rum is a must-stock for most cocktail bars.

Regular Drinks International contributor and bar consultant Philip Duff says: “I have long used cachaça as an example of the gilded cage that has a rock-solid signature drink. The Caipirinha is ‘owned’ by cachaça.”

Carsten Vlierboom, managing director and master blender at Dutch distiller E&A Scheer, was the International Spirits Challenge chairman of judges recently considering the global rum category.

He stipulates: “Cachaça is a very specific and recognisable product with clear local, Brazilian, regulations on production and denomination, cane juice as a base (see panels).

“There are a lot of producers in Brazil, from small artisanal distillers to (extremely) large industrial conglomerates, creating a wide range of products. They fall near to the rum category which is currently very much sought after. Opportunities lie with artisanal premium products mainly.”

Rodrigo Maia is director of Cia Muller, which owns the mighty Cachaça 51 brand. He says: “Cachaça is a drink that embodies the spirit of what Brazil has best to offer – joy, boldness, celebration.

“The main trend we see is premiumisation. This encompasses all the aspects possible, for it requires increasingly elaborated, precise and differentiated production and ageing techniques, with emphasis on the utilisation of different wood types for the ageing process, greater investment in packaging towards sophistication, and the development of more elaborated marketing actions.

“Until last year, the crisis had not been felt in the cachaça market, with an estimated growth of 7% in relation to that of other spirits, thanks to the offering of low value-added and low-priced products. Today, Brazil makes about R$1bn a year with the commercialisation of 1.3bn litres of cachaça. With all this potential, the production of cachaça is a way of investing in a business with great growth possibilities,” says Maia.

Pitú do Brasil is a premium cachaça and market leader in Germany. In answer to some Drinks International questions a spokesperson for Pitú Europe replies: “In Europe the cachaça market is decreasing. Its USP is the capability that cachaça offers, especially in mixability.

“Although the total cachaça market in Germany is decreasing, Caipirinha is still the signature drink and is a must-have on the menu in mainstream bars.”


Drinks International put out a Facebook request asking bartenders for their opinions of cachaça. Here is a selection of the responses.

Top UK bartender Richard Hunt, owner-operator of Mint Gun Club and self-confessed mild cachaca obsessive, says: “I’m all over this – but you knew that from the fact that a quarter of my menu is Cachaça.”

Luisa Halle, bar specialist from Caracas, Venezuela, says: “When it’s well made, it’s one of the best spirits to use in cocktails, which allows a lot of creativity.”