Cachaça—the national spirit of Brazil, made from distilled sugarcane juice—has a curious reputation outside of its home country. Often misclassified as a rum, the spirit is best known as the base ingredient in Brazil's trademark simple yet satisfying Caipirinha—a no-nonsense libation composed of cachaça, brown sugar and lime. Now the craft small-batch cachaça that is commonplace in Brazil is venturing north of the equator. The latest comes from Avuá, whose single-origin cachaça is crafted by one of the industry's only female distillers from a recipe that has been refined over three generations of production.
The brand is offering two varieties: the uncured silver Prata cachaça ($35) and the spectacular Amburana ($50), which is matured for two years in casks made from local Amburana wood, indigenous to South America and famous for its rich vanilla and coumarin scent. While the Prata is a step above other mass-produced cachaças common outside Brazil with its crisp notes of citrus and herbal finish, it's the Amburana that shines. Savory nutmeg notes meld with a warm vanilla nose while a foundation of spice rounds out the tasting experience. Worthy of a sip on its own, Amburana makes for an interesting switch in cocktails that call for dark rum or blended whisky.
Both varieties of Avuá are available online and from finer bottle shops on the East and West Coast.
Photos by Hans Aschim