OK, let’s do just one last Santa Terezinha…
The Cachaça: Santa Terezinha Carvalho
Origin: Espirito Santo
Distilled: n.i. – pot still
Maturation: 3 years first fill American oak
The Nose: soft vegetal with a very pleasant floral perfume. I have sultanas, a bit of bourbon vanilla, coconut and a cognac like flavour. Nice and elegant, soft and easy. A really inviting nose.
The Taste: medium sweet with lots of wood – this really seems to be a distillery signature. The taste actually contrasts a lot with the nose. Where the nose indicates a floral, soft and easy going cachaça, the taste is firm with big wood.
Finish: again very woody and bitter, quickly dropping.
In the mountains surrounding Rio de Janeiro at an altitude around 800 meters we find the Magnifica de Faria distillery, active since 1985. It’s the only cachaça distillery in Brazil using the ‘alegria’ distillation : 3 pot stills, with the first one acting as a ‘chaufe vin’.
Next to the stills casks are stored in a solera system, 8 layers or criaderas high. Magnifica is one of only 3 (I think) distilleries in Brazil using the Solera method. But here the casks are stored right next to the 3 stills, absorbing the alcohol vapours that escape during the distillation process.
The Solera is labeled as a 10 years old, meaning the oldest cachaça in the mix is 10 years of age.
More on the distillery and their ‘tradicional’ ipê matured cachaça HERE
The Cachaça: Magnifica de Faria Reserva Solera – Batch 1 – 2016
Region: Miguel Perreira – RJ
Distilled: pot still
Matured:Solera system in oak casks
Nose: A very rich nose that – strangely enough – reminds a lot of a very good molasses made rum. We find molasses and white fruit, with only subtle fresh sugarcane juice. Also fruitcocktail on syrup and violets. Slowly evolving towards more tropical fruits: mango and overripe passion fruit. Give it a good 10 minuites in the glass and some aniseed is coming through. Hardly any sugarcane juice, and no new make whatsoever. The empty glass evokes some Lapsang Souchong – better known as smoked tea.
Taste: Nice sweet taste with sultanas and a clear influence of the oak. The vegetal notes are there but on the background. The fruits are more hidden now, the wood is taking over and is slightly drying. The mouthfeel is rather pleasant and fresh. Just like in the nose, this cachaça reminds me a lot of a Spanish style rum. Lovely!
Finish: Mediumlong to long finish with fresh sweet notes and lingering oak. The debates are concluded with omnipresent wood that very slowly releases some tannins.
Our Score: *****
This is a must-have for more than one reason. It’s a great cachaça made with both knowledge and love. A cachaça that also will convince many a rum aficionado. The cachaça comes in a beautiful French-style bottle and each bottle has its individual number. Best part: very affordable in price. Soon available in Europe through The Cachaça Company for around €65.
Naming your cachaça brand ‘Minas’…it’s a risk. Minas Gerais is the cachaça state in Brazil, so to name your cachaça after that state comes with certain responsibilities. It has to be a true ambassador of the quality, name and fame of the cachaças from Minas Gerais.
The Cachaça: Minas Brasil Ouro
Origin: Cordislândia – Minas Gerais
Bottled: Lot 3 – 2014
Age: 3 years old
Fermentation: 100% corn
The Nose: the first thing that strikes is the very pleasant nose of this cachaça. Of course, the vegetal notes are there. There’s even some most to be detected. But it’s accompanied by lots of dried fruits. I also have some warm brioche and toasted oak, together with ripe sweet fruits. A little herbal touch (Italian curry) and some soft alcoholic notes with white pepper.
The Taste: Now this a very unusual cachaça indeed. The vegetal side is there, but very subtle. This is rather sweet for a cachaça. Sweet fruits like nectarines and pineapple in syrup. I also find some acacia honey and soft sugarcane. The alcohol is fresh, with a whiff of mint lingering through. The overall mouthfeel is rather soft and creamy.
The Finish: Again rather sweet, and medium long. The same notes as in the taste are there, with a bit more white fruits now (sweet pears).
Our Score: ****
For its price (expect to pay 20-25 euro) this is a great cachaça. And truly a cachaça that will be appreciated by rum drinkers too. It’s a bit less vegetal and much sweeter than your average cachaça.
Cachaça Brasiliana by the Araxa distillers is the kind of cachaça you can pick up at the tax free zones in Brazilian airports. And that’s exactly what we did when I saw this bottle for sale at Brasilia DF airport. A commercial cachaça, but according to the label artisan and 12 years old! So let’s try it.
The cachaça: Brasiliana Gold 12 yo
Region: Minas Gerais
Fermentation: indoors, with corn flower
Distilled: n.i. – copper pot stills of 1500 litres
Maturation: oak, for 12 years
Bottled: november 2013
Nose: the first impression is very soft and gentle. I’m looking for that typical vegetal cachaça notes but no… Vanilla and soft oak shavings confirm the maturation on oak. Also some dried fruit and a soft mineral touch. After a good 10 minutes I finally start to notice some fresh sugarcane juice, together with a slightly perfumed aroma.
Taste: Now this is rather sweet for a cachaça. When cachaça producers add sugar, they have to mention it on the label (cachaça adoçada), but nothing mentioned here. Still I have the impression that a good amount of sugar was added here. This is very un-cachaça indeed. Maybe one for the true rum drinkers? The mouthfeel is very soft, with fine hints of white fruits, but it lacks depth and complexity. Especially for a 12 year old cachaça. Again I have the feeling that the 12 years old might be a bit exaggerated on the label. I guess there’s some 12 yo in it, along with a big quantity of much younger cachaça. It’s either that, or they are using some very old, exhausted casks to mature their pinga.
After about an hour, the taste becomes very flat with astringent bitter tones.
Finish: Sweet and short, with – yet again – surprisingly little wood influence and almost no vegetal cachaça flavours. Fruits? Yes, a bit: overripe pears mainly.
In short: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this cachaça. No off-notes. But it’s an a-typical cachaça. Not vegetal enough. Too sweet (again, I might be mistaken, but I suspect added sugar) and ..well…disappointingly flat for a 12 year old (is it really?)
Our score: ** – despite the fact it’s from tax free… around €30 (1 litre bottle) is simply too much for this cachaça !
After tasting the New Grove finished in acacia wood (https://sugarcanecollection.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/new-grove-double-cask-acacia/) let’s have a go at that other double matured New Grove. Finished in merisier this time. Merisier or Prunus Avium….wild cherry. Not the most common type of wood for maturing distilled beverages.
The Rum: New grove Double Cask Matured Merisier
Distilled: n.i. ca 2004
Maturation: 7 years in French oak + 1 year in mersier
Nose: the first thing I get in the nose is something rather sour and harsh. I even get some white cabbage. But also some very earthy aromas: humus, wet leafs and wet earth. A rather punchy alcohol influence too. At the end some cherry liquor, and I’m afraid that’s about the only thing about the nose that I like. No, just sniffing this rum it really doesn’t invite you to have a sip. But hey, it wouldn’t be the first time that a rum with a rather unpleasant nose turns out to be a nice tipple!
Taste: again a rather alcoholic start, sweet and present molasses. Punchy wood influences too. I actually get burned wood in this rum. Not smoky, but really burned wood. Ever try to taste purified charcoal? (I admit, I did…supposed to be very good to whiten your teeth). Well…it actually has a bit of that same taste. Also a lot of walnut in the taste.
Now, I have some mixed feelings with the regular New Grove range (the 5 and 8 yo), but I do love some of their single casks. They sometimes burst with tropical fruits. Alas…there really is not a trace of that fruitiness in this rum. Too bad !
Finish: Sweet-bitter with lots of wood, slowly growing a bit sweeter (haribo sweets). A medium long finish that ends with some herbal bitters (Unterberg)
Our Score : ** No, this merisier finishing really ads no value whatsoever to the rum. Au contraire !
Cupula da Cachaça is a bi-annual independent ranking of the best 50 cachaças in Brazil. A list of 50 cachaças selected by the public is tasted and tested blind by a jury of people who know their ‘pinga’. A hard and dirty job indeed. Any volunteers?
Two years ago, the Vale Verde 12 years old won the award of best cachaça. Vale Verde 12 was once again amongst the 50 selected cachaças this year (together wit hits younger sibling the Vale Verde 3 years old).
Last night the jury reached its verdict. So we hereby present you the 40 best cachaças for 2015-2016.
- Porto Morretes Premium – 3 years old in oak wood
- Reserva do Gerente Carvalho – 5 yo oak wood
- Companheira Extra Premium – 8 yo oak wood
- Sanhaçu Umburana – 2 yo umburana wood
- Reserva 51 – 3 yo oak wood
- Leblon Signature Merlet – 2 yo French oak
- Porto Morretes Tradição – 6 yo oak
- Weber Haus Extra Premium Lote 48 – 5 years in oak + 1 year balsamo
- Da Tulha Carvalho – 3 yo oak
- Anísio Santiago/ Havana – 8 yo balsamo
- Harmonie Schnaps Extra Premium – 10 yo oak
- Vale Verde – 12 yo oak
- Cedro do Líbano – 1 yo white oak
- Germana Heritage – 8 years oak + 2 years balsamo
- Magnífica Reserva Soleira – 3 yo oak
- Dona Beja Extra Premium – 12 yo French and Portuguese oak
- Mazzaropi Carvalho Francês – 18 months French oak
- Bento Albino Extra Premium – 6 yo oak
- Havaninha – 6 yo balsamo
- Canarinha – 2 yo balsamo
- Casa Bucco Ouro – 6 you oak + balsamo
- Reserva do Nosco Ouro – 4 yo French oak
- Áurea Custódio – 3 yo oak
- Canabella Ouro – 2 years jequitiba + 1 year castanheira + 6 months umburana
- Weber Haus Amburana – 1 year umburana
- Weber Haus Premium Carvalho Cabriúva – 1 year oak + 1 year balsamo
- Werneck Ouro – 2 yo oak
- Magnífica Carvalho – 2 yo oak
- Maria Izabel Carvalho – 1 yo oak
- Santo Grau PX – american oak solera matured
- Da Quinta Amburana – 1 yo umburana
- Indaiazinha – 8 yo balsamo
- Engenho Pequeno – 2 yo jequitiba
- Espírito de Minas – 2 yo oak + jequitiba
- Vale Verde Extra Premium – 3 yo oak
- Sebastiana Castanheira – 1 yo castanheira
- Claudionor – 1 yo umburana
- Reserva do Nosco Prata – unaged
- Werneck Safira Régia – 3 yo oak
- Sapucaia Reserva da Família – 10 yo oak
So what can we learn from this year’s Cupula?
First of all…age doens’t matter, with the over all winner being only 3 years old.
Second: oak still does the trick, with 8 cachaças in the top 10 matured in oak.
Third: maturation counts, with only 1 unaged cachaça in the top 50
Fourth: Minas Gerais is loosing its status as cachaça heartland, with only 2 cachaças in the top 10. Parana takes over with two out of three cachaças in the top-3 !
Fifth: we still have a lot to taste here at the Sugarcane Collection; having tasted only 6 cachaças from the top-50. Time to hunt us down a sponsor !!
The Cachaça : Taverna de Minas Ouro
Origin: Itaverava, Minas Gerais
Distilled: ca 2012 in pot stills
Bottled: ca 2014
Matured: Oak, for 2 years
ABV: 39 %
Nose: elegant nose with sugar cane juice combined with softer wood influence. Fruity aroma’s (dried fruits) and a touch of warm vanilla. Also some fine sawdust.
Taste: in our humble opinion, this is a cachaça that goes both for mixing and sipping. The sugar cane juice is present and powerfull but never overwhelming. Again a nice woody influence with that touch of light vanilla and those dried fruits. First attack in the mouth is a bit alcoholic but gets smoother very fast. Toasted oak.
Finish: mediumlong on the same notes as the taste, drying towards the end. Well balanced cachaça indeed.
Our Score: ****
The Cachaça: Tiara Rainha
Origin: Barra Longa – MG
Bottled: ca 2015
Matured: oak and jequitiba
The Tiara Rainha won a gold medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2014, and a silver medal at the same concours in 2015. Let’s see i fit can live up to the expectations.
The Nose: very subtle, delicately perfumed with soft floral notes. That rather typical vegetal cachaça nose only appears in the background after letting it breath a while. Almost soft young whisky, with hints of warm vanilla pudding. I suppose the oak casks were American (white) oak. It takes a good 15-20 minutes before the wood starts to kick in – again in a delicate way.
The Taste: The sugarcane is present, but again very soft and round. Very subtle flavours, with just a little sweet edge. Almost no alcohol influence. This is a very a-typical cachaça, since it’s very soft with almost no vegetal influences. An easy drinking cachaça – a cachaça for non-cachaça drinkers? If the jury at the Concours Mondial Bxl exists mainly of whisky- and rum drinkers, it explains the medals!
The Finish: Medium long, and yes – again soft. The finish continues to play on the same theme as both the nose and taste did. A very soft cachaça that is consistently consistent.
Our Score : ****