As a big fan of the Caipirinha, I embarked on a trip to Rio de Janeiro in search of the origins of this marvelous drink. My first stop in Rio was a restaurant called Academia da Cachaça which stocks over 100 different labels of Cachaça. I later found myself strolling along the lesser-known Leblon beach which is where I happened upon the Quiosque do Portugues and owner Carlos Alves. There are some 300 Quiosques that line the beaches of Rio serving light food, cold beer and Caipirinhas. Carlos not only made me a wonderful classic Caipirinha but treated me to fresh fruit variations which include passion fruit, kiwi and the local cashew fruit. These were all delicious and at the base of them all lies Cachaça, the Brazilian distillate made from fresh pressed cane juice. To better appreciate this wonderful drink we need to better understand the category of Cachaça.
Nose: The alcohol is very forward, vegetal and grassy with notes of green bell pepper, and the slightest floral notes of honeysuckle.
Palate: The earthiness continues on the palate and is musty and vegetal, with a spicy note of white pepper. Cabana has medium acidity with bitter almond notes at the finish, which are relatively short and quiet.
Nose: Leblon presents with big citrus notes, cut cane and a touch of oak. The alcohol is beautifully balanced.
Palate: On the palate it has a rich and creamy mouth feel with notes of fresh citrus, pear and baked apple. It has nice acidity with a clean, dry, lingering finish.
Nose: GRM presents with notes of star anise, black licorice, clove, leaf tobacco, cigar box cedar and cinnamon.
Palate: All the delightful spice notes present on the nose are detected on the palate. It is very elegant and refined. It has a nice, warm, happy medium finish. This is a Cachaça that deserves to be enjoyed like a fine Cognac.
Armazem Vieira Rubi
Nose: Here we find notes of strawberry, fig, and white pepper, with a cilantro-like herabaceousness.
Palate: Notes of cedar and spicy white pepper with
a medium dry finish leaving me with just a touch
MÃE de OURO
Nose: A vegetal hint of green pepper and fresh cut
grass, sweet notes of honeydew melon, peach and
freshly cut cane.
Palate: This intriguing Cachaça is rich and creamy, with a luxurious mouth feel, revealing layers of flavor. It displays the rich melon and peach that were present on the nose with really nice acidity and a medium finish.
Nose: The alcohol here is slightly more pronounced and there is a hint of burnt sugar with notes of vanilla and cotton candy.
Palate: Boca Loca has surprising notes of caramel apple, chocolate turtles and a shorter, yet pleasant finish.
Nose: Has a very lively and herbaceous nose with a touch of spearmint, dried dill and white pepper. There is also a note of orange zest and the slightest memory of my Aunt Dort’s tapioca.
Palate: Água Loca is robust initially, with some smoky overtones. The taste on the palate does not offer the same complexities that were present on the nose. There is a touch of bitterness on the back palate giving way to a warm and pleasant finish.
Nose: The alcohol here is forward but marries with the reminiscent memory of the rock sugar candy I enjoyed as a child.
Palate: Ypioca presents with notes of spicy white pepper and fresh green bell pepper with a relatively short finish.
Nose: A classic example of an industrial style Cachaça. The alcohol is definitely pronounced and there is a musty, earthy, root cellar note.
Palate: It delivers on the palate what we detect on the nose: pronounced alcohol with mushroom notes. It finished rather short and non-descript. Pitú is a good jumping off point for those who are new to the world of Caipirinhas.