Industry Facts

Cachaça

Cachaça is the official name for Brazil’s distinctive sugarcane-based spirit. While this distillate is gaining recognition in the US, it has become the darling of Europe over the last 20 years.

According to a presidential decree, if its called “cachaça” it must be made in Brazil. It’s the same story with tequila from Mexico, whiskey form Scotland, cognac from France and port from Portugal.

According to the US Government, since it’s made from sugar cane, cachaça must be labeled in the United States as a rum. To learn more about cachaça, click here.

  • Cachaça is the third most consumed alcoholic spirit in the world behind Vodka and Soju (rice distillate)
  • Brazil produces 1.3 to 1.5 billion liters of Cachaça per year. 90-95% of production is controlled by a few large price driven producers
  • There are an estimated 60,000 producers in Brazil - 30,000 are “registered” producers who pay the high tax; and 30,000 produce “moonshine(this information has been mentioned a number of times by producers ‘in the know’, we are awaiting fact checking from the Brazilian Government Agency MAPA)
  • Brazil has 5,000 brands in circulation throughout the domestic market, each year 2,000 will disappear and 2,000 new dreams begin
  • Sao Paulo state accounts for 44% of total production; 12% Pernambuco; 12% Ceará, 8% Minas Gerais, 8% Paraiba, and 16% all others
  • 90 % of production is stilled in large columns and 10% of production is ‘alembic distilled’ with 25,000 producers. Minas Gerais accounts for 6% of the total alembic production, making it the largest producer with 8,466 alembic stills producing 200 million liters per year
  • 90-99% of all cachaça produced has sugar added to it after distillation, an attempt to mask low quality and make it drinkable
  • Exports equal less than 1 percent - over 12 million liters in 2006; main consumers are Germany, Paraguay, Italy, Portugal and the US and Asia are awakening
  • Europe is expected to reach an annual volume of 1 million cases in 2007, with caipirinha bars rocking throughout Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, Milan and Paris
  • Cachaça has over 400 synonyms in Portuguese. Such terms of endearment include: mel (”honey”), because it sweetens life; Água-que-passarinho-não-bebe (”water that birds won’t drink”); “the blessed one”, “pinga”, “the crazy one”, “anger calmer” “giver of life” “tongue enlivener” and “giver of laugh” to name a few.

Legislation

The Decree N. 2.314, September 4th, 1997, regulates the Law N. 8.918, July 14th, 1994, which talks about standardization, classification, register, inspection, production and inspection of drinks in Brazil.

In Chapter IV - Alcoholic Distillates and Liquors - Section II - of Sugar Cane Spirits - Art. 91st : Sugar cane aguardente, caninha or cachaça is the drink with alcoholic graduation from 38% to 54% in volume, at 20oC, obtained from sugar cane alcoholic distilled or from sugar cane leavened must distillation. Sugars of until six grams per liter could be added.

  • § 1st The drink that contains more then six grams per liter of sugar will be called sweetened sugar cane aguardente, sweetened caninha or sweetened cachaça.
  • § 2nd It Will be called aged sugar cane aguardente, aged caninha or aged cachaça the drink that contains at least fifty percent of aged sugar cane aguardente, by a minimum period of one year, Caramel could be added for color correction.
  • § 3rd The congenerous coefficient could not be inferior to two hundred milligrams per one hundred milliliters of anhydride alcohol.

On December 21st, 2001, the president of Brazil signed the Decree No 4.062 that defines “cachaça”, “Brazil” and “Cachaça from Brazil” expressions, as geographic indications and gives names to other procedures. In its 3rd article the named expressions could only be used to indicate that the product obeys the general rules established in Law N. 8.918, July 14th, 1994, and the Decree N. 2.314, of 4 September, 1997, and that its use is restricted to the producers established in the country. The decree N. 4.072, January 3rd, 2002, gives new writing to the arts. 81, 91 and 93 in regulation approved by the Decree N. 2.314, September 4th , 1997, characterizing “caipirinha” as a typical Brazilian drink, exclusively elaborated with cachaça, lemon and sugar.

[Brazilian Decree 4.851 regarding cachaça]

Learn About…
Quality Cachaça