According to a Brazilian standardization, Cachaça is the typical and unique designation for the sugarcane liquor produced in Brazil, with an alcohol content of 38-48 volume percent, at twenty degrees Celsius (°C), obtained by the distillation of the fermented juice of the sugarcane.
The cachaça business is booming in Brazil with more and more distilleries popping up each day. Although there are now literally hundreds of cachaça labels on the market, all cachaças should be able to be classified in the following manner:
Classification by Color
Cachaça can be either silver (“branca”) or gold (“amarela”).
This type of cachaça may or may not be stored in wood. The most important characteristic is that it doesn’t undergo any color change. In this case, the producer may add the expressions “Clássica”, “Tradicional” or “Prata”(Silver) to the label.
These cachaças are usually stored or aged in wood, which causes a substantial change in its color. In this case, the producer may
add the expressions “Ouro” (Gold), “Envelhecida” (Aged), “Premium”, or “Extra Premium” to the label.
Classification bystorage method
Cachaça that is not stored in wood after distillation is left to stand in stainless steel containers before being standardized and bottled. In these cases, the cachaça aroma and flavor are the closest to those of sugarcane. Some cachaças can be stored in woods that do not release any color (such as jequitibá, freijó, and amendoim), remaining white.
Cachaça is stored in wooden barrels, of any size, for a non-specified period of time (2 months, 5 months, 1 year, 3 years). This process results in the so-called “softening” of the spirit, influencing its aroma and flavor depending on the wood.
At least 50% of the cachaças in the market are aged for at least 1 year in barrels of up to 700 liters (185 gal) of capacity. After being contained in a small barrel and in direct contact with the wood for a longer period, aged cachaça ends up showing more obvious changes in its color, aroma and flavor. The aged cachaças can be divided into “Premium” and “Extra Premium”.
Cachaça can be called “Premium” if: it consists of 100% sugarcane cachaça or aguardente, it is aged in suitable barrels with not more than 700 liters (185 gal) capacity for a period no shorter than one year.
Extra Premium cachaça
Cachaça can be called “Extra Premium” if: same as above, but for a period no shorter than three years.