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Other White Spirits: The Basics
The Styles: Cachaca Mezcal Soju Sotol
Cachaça is the national spirit of Brazil. It is very similar to Rum both in production and use. Cachaça is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice while most Rum is a distillate of fermented molasses although this is certainly not the rule (Notably Rhum Agricole made in the French West Indies). Cachaça is rarely aged being bottled clear. Portuguese settlers first produced Cachaça in Brazil in the 16th century. At first officials frowned upon the production of Cachaça and then later relented when it simply became more expedient to tax it (sound familiar?).
Today, it is estimated that there are 4,000 brands of Cachaça. Most of this wildly popular spirit never makes it out of Brazil. Cachaça has enjoyed increasing fame in the US thanks in large part to the proliferation of the Brazilian “Churrasco” steakhouses now found in every major, and many secondary, markets in America. Cachaça is most often consumed in its most famous cocktail, the caipirinha which is a made with muddled lime pieces and sugar.
Like Tequila, Mezcal is distilled twice and most often bottled at near 40% ABV. Additionally, the aging protocol and nomenclature is the same as Tequila:
Blanco (silver) is colorless and aged for less than two months.
Reposado is golden in color and aged in barrel for two to 12 months.
Anejo is golden to amber in color and aged in barrel for one year and beyond.