The Right Way To Taste Cachaça

Like most other drinks you’ve tasted or heard of before, cachaça is a complex drink. It has it’s own little set of rules and comes in variations, which are visible through its texture, flavor, and aroma. In this article, we will see how a proper cachaça analysis is carried out. Please note that it is a translation from the original Portuguese version found at Mapa da Cachaca (a Brazilian authority in cachaça).

The Visual Analysis of Cachaça

The first step in tasting cachaças is visual analysis. For a better evaluation, we suggest the following: go to a bright and clean place; pour the beverage into a clear glass, preferably a stem glass, so your fingerprints do not interfere visually; the glass should be relatively thin-walled, clean and free of odors, including “closet” smell. Position the halfway full glass against a white surface, such as a piece of paper, allowing the observation of the liquid without the interference of objects that may be nearby.

Olfactory Analysis of Cachaça

For this step of tasting, standardize a distance between the glass and your nose, such that they are close together — usually, one to two inches are enough. Make sure there is as little as possible odor interference in the environment, such as hand lotions and perfumes.

Retro-olfactory Analysis

This analysis is extremely important, since it uses the mouth’s sensory apparatus, the throat, and the nose, allowing you to highlight or discover new flavors in the cachaça. To proceed with this step, partially fill the lungs with air, get a sip of the cachaça in your mouth and swirl it around, then swallow, and slowly exhale. Analyze the flavor-odor profile left in your mouth: the sweetness, the acidity, the spiciness, the alcoholic flavor, the flavor of the wood, the resilience. A high-quality cachaça keeps the good features hanging for two seconds or more. The longer, the better.

Final Analysis

For the final assessment, you must combine all the impressions. At this time, remember also that a high-quality cachaça depends on a good sugarcane crop and how it was harvested, and if that was done at the right time; on the time-lapse from the moment sugarcane was harvested to the time it was ground; on the quality of the water used on the preparation of the must; on the hygiene and quality of fermentation; on the carefulness of distillation; and also on the appropriate and balanced use of wood, without turning it into a subterfuge to mask the faults of the original cachaça. It’s not possible to know every detail of the production, so we have to trust our senses, i.e., we have to analyze if the appearance, the odor, and taste of the cachaça fit together and how much they please us.

To learn more about this topic, check out our other posts on the subject of cachaça.