The Engenho Buriti, located in Papagaios – Minas Gerais started production not too long ago in 2010. Only 3 years later their cachaças already won several gold medals at ExpoCachaça, the most important cachaça fair around.
They produce cachaça under the names of Famosinha de Minas, Santuario de Minas, Dona Branca, and Buriti. But they also produce cachaça for independent companies and bottlers, like ABOUT, a cachaça company operating from…Switzerland.
The Cachaça: About Brazil – Gold
Origin: Papagaios – MG
Maturation: 2 years old
Distillation: pot still
ABV: 40 %
The nose: this makes one happy! Fresh and vivid with beautiful hints of cinnamon, vanilla, liquorice, and very subtle on the background something that reminds me of smoked horsemeat (filet d’Anvers). All the aromas are subtle and well integrated. Give it a good 20 minutes in the glass and it becomes a bit more floral.
The taste is extremely well balanced. The 3 main flavours are in perfect harmony: sweet, vegetal and wood. This cachaça might be a bit less grassy than many others, and has a bit of an un-cachaça like sweet touch; but this sweetness goes very well together with the delicate amburana notes. Again some light cinnamon and vanilla and a touch of ripe cherries. With many amburana matured cachaças, the cinnamon really hits you in the face. ABOUT Gold however is much more delicate. The taste actually reminded me a bit of a soft apfelstrudel. Must be why the Swiss like it I suppose 😊
The finish is very long, again a bit sweet with pleasant fruity notes. White fruits: peach, pear.
Our Score: ****. ABOUT Gold? Yep…a gold medal well deserved.
Now let’s talk availability. For now only available in Switzerland apparently. But you do know how it goes. If I taste a magnificent cachaça like this that is not available in my own country (which is Belgium, fyi) I do try to contact the producers to get it over here as well. So with probability: soon available everywhere in western Europe. Because everyone deserves some Gold in their life!
In the relatively small State of Espirito Santo near the Atlantic coastline, the Santa Terezinha distillery started production in 1942. Santa Terezinha is an artisan distillery working with respect for the environment. We’ve seen it all before with other distilleries: manual harvesting without burning the fields, swift pressing of the cane, the bagaço that is being used to heat up the copper pot stills (direct heating), and so on. But what makes Santa Terezinha really different is the particular way of fermenting the calda.
Once the juice or calda has been extracted, an equal amount of boiled sugarcane juice is added. To that mixture, the distiller also adds roasted and grinded bagaço (the dried sugarcane stems) as well as cornflower. To bring this mixture to the right temperature, a big stone is heated and then dropped into the mixing tank. In the meantime leaves of oranges and tangerines are being burned over a fire next to the tank, to clean or to purify the air. After four to five days, the mixture is all ready to go into the fermentation tanks. There it still takes an exceptional four to five days of fermentation to get the garapa ready. Once distilled, 80% of the spirit is used as coração.
All this means a very complex and time consuming method, combining the old traditions from back in those days when slaves made the cagaça with traditional European methods from the viniculture, brought to Brazil by European immigrants.
The Santa Terezinha cachaça is then matured in casks or tuns of oak, jequitiba rosa, bálsamo, umburana, or sassafras. Labels and boxes are often designed by famous Brazilian artists like Hélio Coelho and Haroldo Bussotti, making the bottles also real collector’s items.
The Cachaça: Santa Terezinha Serie Artes
Region: Espirito Santo
Distilled: pot still – lot 2017
Matured: amburana, 6 months
The Nose is rather elegant with soft vegetal aromas of fermenting most and a pleasant and again rather soft herbal touch. Also hints of sweet hay in good balance with a touch of white pepper and fresh sugarcane. Give it a good 15 minutes in the glass and it becomes more floral (rose petals)
The Taste is a bit sweet and rather vegetal on the first impression. As it was with the sassafras version, the second impression is more woody, but this time not as bitter. Some very subtle cinnamon (I suppose these amburana casks are really old, not giving much flavour anymore). Firm sugarcane and a delicate fruitiness reminding me a bit of sweet red fruits.
The Finish is rather woody with a sweet note, and is medium long. Slowly drying towards the end with soft-bitter wood but no aggressive tannins.
Salinas, a relatively small city in Minas Gerais is well known for its flourishing cachaça production. Especially the use of balsam and umburana wood for maturation is a signature of the town, which also hosts a cachaça museum.
Let’s try one of the lesser known umburana matured cachaças from cachaça-capital.
The Cachaça: D’Salinas Reserva Especial
Origin: Salinas – MG
Fermentation : Fuba de Milho
Distilled : column still – ca 2012
Bottled : ca 2014
Maturation: Umburana – 2 years old
The Nose: The aroma is pleasant, round and soft, with a more delicate vegetal sugarcane touch and a hint of cinnamon. Also wet hay and soft herbal notes. The sugarcane juice is unlike most cachaças rather hidden, but also the umburana influence is very discrete. I guess the original spirit is already very soft itself. After evaporation of the alcohol we have some new leather, and some toasted grains – strangely enough. Due to the fermentation with cornflower (fuba de milho) maybe?
The Taste: Again very soft without any alcohol bite. A nice sweet note and again a rather subtle vegetal side. Soft without being too flat – although the 40 abv might be the limit. I would love to try this cachaça at let’s say 42 or 44 % ! Tasty and easy going, but without evolution.
The Finish: Soft cinnamon slowly fading away. The sweet touch stays until the end of this medium long finish. At the very end some light metallic notes that blend perfectly in.
Our Score : *** – a very nice cachaça with only subtle umburana notes. But it lacks evolution – it gets a bit boring.
The Cachaça: Weber Haus Amburana Matured
Origin: Itovi- Rio Grande do Sul
Distilled: n.i. – pot still
Bottled: ca 2015
Maturation: 1 year in amburana or umburana casks
Weber Haus…sounds German, right? Well, it actually is. Not that this is a cachaça ‘Made in Germany’ but made by a family who arrived in the south of Brazil back in the 1800s. Today Weber Haus is a well-known artisan cachaça producer that works 100% organic and that has won over 30 medals in international concours.
Umburana matured cachaça is often used in blends. The more herbal character of the wood lifts the blend to a higher level. But the cachaça we taste today is entirely matured in umburana only.
The Nose: the first aroma that really pops out of the glass is that of rich herbal honey. In the background we find this soft vegetal touch of fresh sugarcane that is so typical for cachaça. But here it only plays second violin. Round notes of cinnamon and rock sugar are also rather present. At the end some white pepper and saw dust pop out, together with a very light whiff of vanilla.
The Taste: what a beautiful well balanced cachaça this is. Again round, soft but yet rich cinnamon, in perfect harmony with sweet-sour sugarcane. A little sweet touch with loads of soft spices, and even an impression of stewed tropical fruits. The alcohol is perfectly integrated and manifests itself at the end when the more typical cachaça notes of the sugarcane start to take the upper hand.
The Finish: Medium long and sweet herbal with a very nice creamy mouthfeel. Again very well balanced, with a pleasant bitter woody touch at the very end.
Our Score: ***** . That’s right: 5 stars. This is a must have for every cachaça lover. Expect to pay around € 38-40
We’re finally back online after a long summer break. Let’s start slow…maybe with a cachaça liquor?
Weber Haus Licor de Cachaça co Amburana
Origin: Ivoti (RS)
Honestly, I’m not really a big fan of liquors. Too sweet, too sticky, too synthetic most of the time. But this one is made with matured (yes!) cachaça from Weber Haus, one of the very best cachaça distilleries in Brazil. Made with matured artisan cachaça, organic cane sugar and amburana or umburana infused.
Nose: Soft herbal notes and sweet maraschino cherries, accompanied by some typical autumn aromas of wet wood, quality mushrooms and soft green moss. A very slight alcoholic touch. Also some rich acacia honey.
Taste: Sweet herbal notes, with a subtle bitter woody touch. Again this rich acacia honey and maraschino cherries. A velvet mouthfeel, that despite the sweet notes never gets sticky. Cane sugar, but yet very fresh and cooling in the mouth
Finish: medium long with a lasting sweetness, without – again – becoming too sugary or sticky.
Expect to pay around 22-25 euro in Europe