FAR SOUTH of the Caribbean, past Martinique, past Barbados, miles away from the cane fields of the West Indies, there is another kind of cane spirit.
It’s called cachaca, a sugar cane distillate that, like the French Caribbean’s rhum agricole, is made from sugar cane juice, rather than molasses.
Is it rum? It is and it isn’t. The ingredients are effectively identical, but Brazil sees the spirit as a uniquely Brazilian product that deserves its own appellation. And many industrial-grade, unaged cachacas wouldn’t actually qualify as rum under traditional definitions.
Indeed, cachaca is the national drink of Brazil, and is typically familiar to spirit drinkers and cocktail aficionados as a pure-white, somewhat rough-tasting ingredient in the Caipirinha cocktail.
But that’s not the entire world of cachaca.
Indeed, there is also an aged variety, one that gives aged rums in the Caribbean a “rum” for their money.
One of the newest on the scene comes from Novo Fogo, a boutique cachaca distillery based in the mountains of Southern Brazil that focuses on producing an organic, green product.
That includes the company’s Organic Aged Cachaca, which is distilled in a pot still and then aged in bourbon casks for at least two years.
The result is a rather intriguing spirit, with a classic rum-style amber colour, an aroma of light caramel and a flavour profile of apple, sugarcane, anise, bourbon and honey.
It tastes like a bolder rhum agricole — think a cognac-style rhum with the brashness of pure silver cachaca.
All in all, it’s very, very good — neat, as we preferred it, on the rocks or in a mixed cocktail.
And it accomplishes something rather special: it makes one think about rum in new ways.
And thinking about rum is almost as fun as the actual drinking.