If you’ve had any experience with cachaça, it’s likely been in Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha. But there’s so much more to the spirit.
Cachaça is a sweet, vegetal, and usually clear liquid made from fresh sugarcane juice. It’s most similar in taste and style to rum, which is primarily made from molasses, and rhum agricole, which is made with fresh sugarcane juice in Martinique. By law, cachaça must be produced in Brazil and have 38 to 54 percent alcohol by volume. However Cachaça wasn’t officially recognized in the U.S. as a distinct Brazilian spirit until 2013, and it’s still relatively hard to find a wide selection of bottles stateside despite there being more than 5,000 legally registered cachaça products in Brazil, according to Brazil Business.
But it’s easy to fall in love with the spirit as soon as you get your hands on a bottle. It’s funky and fruity with a soft bite to it that makes it an interesting component in a variety of cocktails. Here are six bottles of cachaça you can find in the U.S. All prices are according to Wine Searcher.
A certified organic brand with a strong sustainability message. Novo Fogo also has barrel-aged options, but the Silver is a good way to understand the flavors of the spirit without oak influence. It has a strong fresh apple juice and banana smell, and a clean, easy- drinking, sweet flavor. There’s some funk in the bottle as to be expected, but in a refined way. It’s fruity with subtle floral notes perfect for getting into cachaça and Caipirinhas. Average Price: $32
Aged in Amburana barrels, a native tree that only grows in Latin American forests, Avuá’s Amburana cachaça is a gentler and less raw than silver cachaça. It’s a sipping spirit, with a grassy sweetness and a touch of yeasty notes. Subtle wood spice flavors are present as well. Average Price: $50
Yaguara, which is Portuguese for jaguar, is an organic cachaça that debuted in the U.S. in 2014. It smells like apple and pear skin. The taste is grassy with natural sweet tea flavors and a pretty powerful burn going down. It’s not a straight sipper for the majority of people, but it mixes well and holds its own in frozen cocktails and fruity cocktails. Average Price: $36
The herbal, vegetal, and citrus notes are the first thing you notice about a bottle of Leblon on your first whiff. The taste follows the nose, with a little spiciness accented by the alcohol. It’s also a good example of “hogo,” a term that refers to the sulfur-like odors found in sugarcane spirits. Don’t let it throw you off — it works. Average Price: $28
Pitu is on the lower price range of the cachaças available in the States, making it a good option for cocktails and dipping your toes into making Caipirinhas . The first smell and taste is white pepper, which is followed up with a savory, earthy flavor. Pitu has a big burn to it, so don’t try it straight. Average Price: $13
The bottle comes wrapped in handwoven palm leaves similar to what you’d expect from a cheap Chianti. The Prata is aged for two years, but the oak doesn’t impart much color. Earthy notes and vanilla dominate the flavor, but so does a strong alcohol presence. It’s another cachaça designed for cocktails, not sipping. Average Price: $16