(NEW YORK; November 5, 2013) — Brazil’s cachaça, the country’s national spirit that is distilled directly from fresh sugarcane juice and has been produced throughout the country since the 1530s, may have a storied history amongst Brazilian connoisseurs, but is still a relatively new phenomenon in the U.S. Until early 2013, cachaça was misclassified as “Brazilian rum” by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and eyed suspiciously by the uninitiated as exotic firewater reserved for only the brave. And yet in Brazil, high-quality cachaça is produced throughout the country by small producers uncompromising in their skill and traditional craft. Fortunately for American spirits enthusiasts, new brands of Brazil’s noble spirit are appearing stateside, providing an opportunity to discover the richness of artisanal cachaça.
One such brand is Avuá Cachaça, which consists of two single-estate, limited-production spirits – one unaged (Prata), one aged in Brazilian wood (Amburana) – that showcase the vibrancy, nuance and elegance of Brazil. As numerous cocktail bars and fine restaurants around the country bring cachaça into the mix – from Milk & Honey, Death & Co., Marea and The Breslin in New York, to Hawthorne in Boston, Rogue 24 and The Passenger in Washington, DC, and Prizefighter in San Francisco, CA – Avuá seeks to share the thrilling diversity of this spirit, the country it calls home and its passionate culture.
Distilled by one of Brazil’s only female distillers using a family recipe honed over three generations, Avuá Cachaça begins in the single-estate sugarcane fields of a small, family-owned farm situated in the rolling hills near Rio de Janeiro. The cane, composed of three specifically chosen varietals, is hand-cut, ground with a waterwheel, and fermented for less than 24 hours using airborne wild yeasts, before being distilled in a copper-crafted alembic still at the distillery located in a long, thin valley between the hills of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states. There is also an emphasis on sustainability and ethical production in the creation of Avuá: It is organically produced with only renewable energy with water piped from a natural source to grind the cane and a boiler for the still that is fired by the residuals of the sugarcane pulp, known as bagasse; the local workers are given comfortable lodging as well as reading activities and education for their children.
- Avuá Cachaça Prata (750ml / 42% ABV / $35.00) – Avuá’s silver cachaça is rested in steel tanks for six months before bottling. The result is a lush, crisp spirit with subtle floral notes perfect for creative variations on spirit-forward cocktails, such as the Negroni or Old Maid, or the famous classic peasant cocktail, the Caipirinha. Slightly bready on the nose with notes of mild lime and citrus, cinnamon and sarsaparilla, it has a clean finish and balanced structure.
- Avuá Cachaça Amburana (750ml / 40% ABV / $50.00) – Matured for up to two years in casks made from Amburana wood – indigenous only to South America – this wood lends the aged cachaça warm, savory notes on the nose and the palate, ranging from nutmeg and honey to spice and basil. Top bartenders have been inspired to create spirit-forward, stirred cocktails with Amburana – such as those traditionally created with whiskies and aged rums; this aged cachaça is also ideal for sipping, in the vein of a cognac.
Launched in April 2013 in New York, Avuá Cachaça has been quickly heralded by spirits critics and leading bartenders alike for how it reflects the depth of flavor and botanical richness garnered from distilling fresh sugarcane juice using the indigenous yeasts, cane and soil of Brazil: Simon Difford’s Guide awarded an Outstanding rating for Amburana and an Excellent rating for Prata; Wine Enthusiast named Avuá one of the Top 50 Spirits of the Year, and renowned spirits expert Paul Pacult gave both Prata and Amburana his top rating. Avuá is now only available in New York, Boston, Washington, DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“There are over 7,000 cachaça producers in Brazil, many of which are extremely small farms run by local families,” says Nathan Whitehouse, co-founder of Avuá Cachaça. “The country’s small distillers have their own distinctive techniques and age in woods that showcase the tremendous natural diversity of Brazil. Avuá reflects the range of cachaças known in Brazil, where there are both ‘highland’ (Minas Gerais) and ‘lowland’ (Paraty) styles.” Whitehouse collaborated with a family of artisanal distillers with more than 80 years of cachaça distilling tradition to develop Avuá Cachaça together with fellow entrepreneur and Brazil enthusiast Pete Nevenglosky, and the New York and London-based design team, Designed by Rook, seeking to share the excitement they felt about Brazil’s elegance by developing this brand along with the distilling family.
Avuá Cachaça is the preferred cachaça of many cocktail-world luminaries, including Milk & Honey’s Sasha Petraske and Michael Neff, a founding partner of Ward III and Rum House, and is the top-shelf cachaça at prominent Brazilian restaurants, such as Miss Favela and Casa in New York. For more information on Avuá Cachaça, visit www.avuacachaca.com, follow the brand on Twitter @avuacachaca, #thrillofdiscovery, and via Facebook, Facebook.com/avua.cachaca.