Above: the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil
CAN DRINKING RUM help save the environment?
It’s a pleasant thought for any rum enthusiast — but a new rum from a small town at the edge of Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest may do just that.
It’s called Novo Fogo, a Brazilian cachaca that might be the world’s greenest rum.
The project started when proprietor Dragos Axinte, a lover of cachaca with a background in consumer products, became frustrated with what he saw as a lack of quality cachaca available outside of Brazil, especially in the United States.
“I looked into the opportunity of doing something that respects the old traditions of Brazilian farmers who are trying to do well by doing right, and respecting their own land resources, their rainforest — all the things that they’re the guardians of for the rest of the world,” he said.
His search brought him to the small city of Morretes, where he soon partnered with a distillery “that lived by the principles we live by — the simple life, sustainability,” he said.
In Morretes, he said, the farmers are “nearly obsessed” with the preservation of their biggest natural resources.
Novo Fogo makes three brands: silver, barrel-aged cachaca and “Barrel 105.” And the latter two, as barrel-aged cachacas with dark, caramel colours, are particularly unique.
But it’s sustainability that is the story of the company: each bottle’s cork is a mix of natural wood and synthetic cork; each neck wrap is made from recylcled plastic bottles and each bottle is made from recycled glass. The rum itself is USDA-certified organic.
And the production site is a zero-waste, gravity-fed distillery.
“We created this brand to tell the story of the things they do in a very small town in South Brazil, where they’re nearly obsessed with the preservation of their biggest natural resources — the Atlantic rainforest, the mountains, the coast,” he tells Rum Journal.
As we’ve discussed in Rum Journal before, Cachaca is the Brazilian cousin of the Rhum Agricole made in the French departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe — that is, it’s made from distilling pure sugar cane juice.
And just like the rhums of Guadeloupe and Martinique, cachaca far more heavily influenced by its terroir than traditional molasses-based rums.
And the local environment finds its way into every bottle, he says.
“The air is so clean that all of these fragrances end up in the sugarcane itself,” he says. “So by not adding chemicals we end up with that rainforest flavour in every bottle — and that’s all we have to do to be able to tell the story of that place.”