What is Cachaça?

Cachaça is a Brasilian sugar cane distillate spirit. Cachaça differs from rum in that it is distilled directly from fermented sugar cane juice, whilst rum is distilled from fermented sugar cane molasses (syrup that is by-product of processing sugar cane into sugar). It is the 3rd most consumed spirit in the world, but only a tiny amount (1%) is exported out of Brasil.

How do people drink Cachaça?

By far the most common way is to combine it with sugar, lime, and ice to make the national drink of Brasil - the now world famous caipirinha. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg - for more suggestions and cocktails, check our recipe section.

What different kinds of cachaça are there?

Industrial Cachaça - is produced at larger facilities where a high volume of cachaça is distilled continuously in steel column stills. It is normally the least expensive type of cachaça to buy, and the ones found commonly in Brasil. The cachaça is typically a little rougher on the tongue, and sometimes contains aromas like petroleum or rubbing alcohol.

Artesanal/Alembique Cachaça - is produced by smaller farms all around Brasil. They use a copper alembique for distillation in small batches. The cachaça has more flavours, different scents like flowers, bananas, cut-grass, and is generally warmer on the tongue.

Aged Cachaça - Artesenal cachaça is often aged in different wooden barrels to allow the spirit to settle and make it smoother. The barrels for aging used should be small, not more than 250L. The wood also gives a unique flavour to the cachaça. Depending on which type of wood, e.g. jequitiba rosa, garapeira or umburana, the cachaça can acquire diferent tastes, like cinnamon, vanilla, or honey.

How do different cachaças taste?

Texture - Some cachaças are more light and watery, and others are more viscous like oil.

Nose - Depending on the ingredients and process, a cachaça can have a lot of interesting notes, or none. Example smells are fruits, spices, vegetables, herbs, or sugarcane. Industrial smells like engines are a bad thing.

Tongue and Taste - A good cachaça shouldn’t burn or be harsh in the mouth. You should be able to taste sugarcane, but it shouldn’t be too sweet either.

Finish - After you swallow, does the flavour last a long time? Do any additional flavours come through? A good finish should be lasting and pleasant.

What does small-batch mean?

Small batch refers to the method of distillation. It is done in a number of batches, instead of as a continuous process. This results in better control of the distillate, and more flavours.

What is organic Cachaça?

No artificial chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used at any stage in the production of an organic Cachaça. Also the fields of sugar cane aren’t burnt prior to harvest (this is common practice in production of inorganic Cachaça and leads to huge air pollution problems in sugar cane producing regions of Brasil). See our page about organic farming here.

What is ethical Cachaça?

Brasil is in parts, an extremely poor country. People who cut sugar cane for a living are paid next to nothing and work in really bad conditions, even by Brasilian standards. Also, it’s getting increasingly hard for small holding farmers to make a living due to pressure from imports and big agri-business. We are trying to redress this balance by creating better working conditions and educating local farmers in organic farming so they can sell their product for a fair price to people like us.

What’s so special about Abelha Cachaça?

Abelha Cachaça is a premium artesanal, small-batch, organic cachaça. It is produced organically and ethically in one of the most beautiful, but also poorest places in Brasil. Abelha Cachaça has a rich natural flavour, and comes as Silver (rested) and Gold (aged).

What’s the difference between the Silver and Gold?

After distillation, the silver version rests (descansando) for a few months in holding vessels, to let the flavour settle. It makes great caipirinhas, and is very mixable to make a huge variety of cocktails.

Abelha GOLD is aged for 3 years in small wooden barrels, where some parts evaporate, and the cachaça picks up a really nice mellow flavour and honeyed note from the wood. It’s a top quality spirit and can be drunk neat, over the rocks, just like a fine whiskey or rum.

How you say ‘Abelha’? What does it mean?

‘Abelha’ is pronounced ah-BAY-lya and means ‘bee’ in Portuguese, the language spoken in Brasil.

Why is it called Abelha?

For 2 reasons, firstly because of the honeyed note that the aged cachaça picks up from the wood. Secondly, because our cachaça is created by a collective of farmers.

More Questions?

If you have any more questions post them as a comment below - if you tick the notify box, it will email you when your question is answered. Or you can just email us, and someone will answer them as fast as possible.


  1. How do I go about finding more information on how to make Cachaça, in South Africa?

  2. Hi Bruce, if you are talking about distilling your own alcohol at home, it is quite a complex subject. The best links and discussion boards are here:


    Cachaca is distilled directly from fermented sugar cane juice. Let me know if I can be any more help and send us a sample when you’ve done it!
    Thanks, Anthony

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