Cachaça: One trick pony?

James Hawkins, bartender at Sexy Fish in Mayfair, London, and UK Brand Champion at Cachaça Yaguara, says: “It is a very diverse and interesting category.”

Jonathan Smolensky, ‘quartermaster’ of Thirst Boston bar in Boston, Massa-chusetts, replies: “Cachaca is one of the most important parts of my business.”

Peter Holland, who describes himself as a “rum herder (professional)... writer, presenter and consultant to the sugar cane spirits industry, says: “This really is an underestimated category –lots of good booze out there and so much more to discover as well.”

Tom Lasher-Walker, bar manager at Pig Bleecker in New York says: “Inter-esting topic. A long time ago me and a friend (Declan McGurk) talked about white spirits that have flavour after being distilled from their original matter (ie mezcal, rhum agricole, etc). Cachaça would also fall into this category but seems to get a one-dimensional point of view a lot of the time because of the drink it’s always associated with – Caipirinha.”

Daniele Liberati, general manager and beverage director at OSH restaurant and bar in London, points out: “The type of woods used in the cachaca industry are really interesting. Completely different profiles from the Europe-an and North American ones.”

Bacardi customer marketing ambassador and former Leblon brand ambassador at Cachaça Leblon, Marcello Gaya, quips: “Love cachaça as much as lasagne.”

Kasper Riewe-Høgh of the Duck and Cover bar in Copenhagen says: “I am co-owner of Fio Do Bigode cachaca that is currently available in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany. Small-scale production of pot still cachaca produced in Minas Gerais.

“It is important to distinguish between pot still cachaca (cachaca de alambique) and industrial column still cachacas. The differences are enormous, not only regarding the distillation, but also the cultivation, harvesting, fermentation and ageing. All this manifests itself in the end product.

“Craft cachaca is a fantastic bartender spirit that, for us, ticks all the boxes. It offers untamed and bold flavour expressions, it has a rich tradition and a proud heritage, but first and foremost it is an honest and transparent product with a clear taste of the raw materials.”

Riewe-Høgh goes on to tell DI: “Together with a friend and a small distribution company we started Fio di Bigode cachaca five years ago.

“My friend and I had previously done work in the Brazilian community in Copenhagen and been working with Ypioca for a couple of years. Knowing there were more, other, better products available in Brazil than in the general market at the time, we decided to see what we could do to bring some of it over here.

“We ended up visiting quite a few distilleries, primarily in Minas and Paraty before ending up with a corporation with the better known Germana guys. Our product is pot still, one-time distilled. We don’t use pesticides and we do all the harvesting by hand. The distillery is on a small slope, so gravity takes care of most production steps, and only one plug is used for the sugar cane press. We do natural fermentation with corn as a starter.”


Philip Duff says: “A cachaça Caipirinha is a marvellous drink. But what next? It is proving difficult to get bartenders to simply use cachaça as ‘just another interesting cocktail ingredient’. Try as they may, the Caipirinha remains top-of-mind whenever they start to try to create a new cocktail using cachaça.