Cachaça Tasting Guide
Note: go directly to our cachaça profiles, click here.
How to taste cachaça?
First, we need to learn what is cachaça. That is, we need to know that it has as raw material fresh sugarcane juice and that it can only has between 38% to 48% of alcohol content. If not, it cannot be called cachaça and you will be tasting something else. Another issue, which makes it very interesting in cachaça tastings, is the diversity of woods used to store or age it. If whiskey, tequila, rum are only aged in oak, for cachaça there are more than 20 types of woods to enjoy this spirit.
Now that we know what is cachaça and its varieties, we can talk about how to taste it. As in any other spirit tasting, to taste cachaça we use our senses: seeing, smelling and tasting.
Before we start, let's have a look at an expert tips, Jairo Martins (in portuguese):
The first stage of cachaça tasting process is the visual analysis. For better evaluating, we suggest the following: be on a bright and clean place; put the spirit in a transparent glass, preferably a cup with stem, so that your fingers or your digital do not interfere, it has to be a clean and odor-free, including those characteristic "shelf smell", and relatively thin; put it on a white surface, a paper or cardboard, which, positioned behind the cup (half full), allow the liquid vision without interference from objects which, by chance, are in the environment. With that, you can check the cleanliness and color of the spirit.
For this step, standardize a distance between the cup and the nose, so that one stay close to the other, usually three to four centimeters is sufficient. It is advisable that there are few odoriferous interference on the environment, hands or body perfumes. Below, the map of the cachaça aromas, a tool that helps to identify the different flavors of cachaça.
Now it comes the flavors. Always remember to drink water to "clean" the flavors when tasting different cachaças and to stay hydrated. To evaluate the characteristics of the flavor, place a small amount of the spirit in the mouth and make it through all its corners. Fell it before swallow.
This analysis is extremely important, since it uses the mouth sensory skills, throat and nose, and lets you highlight or discover new flavors of cachaça. To make it correctly, inspire, partially filling the lungs with air, put the cachaça in the mouth and feel, swallow and only then exhale slowly. Review the features that is in your mouth: sweetness, acidity, spiciness, the alcoholic flavor, the taste of wood, persistence. A good cachaça retains the good features (which you already evaluated in the previous item) for two seconds or more. The longer, the better.
For the final evaluation you should consider the spirit as a whole. At this point, remember that a good cachaça depends on the sugarcane plantation and treatment it received, if the harvest was made at the right time, the time that the cane took between cutting and grinding, water quality for the preparation of the must , hygiene and quality of fermentation and careful distillation, and also the appropriate and balanced use of wood without the subterfuge to mask the original defects of cachaça. Since it is not possible to know all the details of production, we have to trust in our senses. IIn other words, we have to evaluate the appearance, odor and taste of the cachaça and how much it pleases you.
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