Velho Barreiro Cachaça

Velho Barreiro Cachaça

Velho Barreiro Cachaça


  • Sugary, no strong esters
  • Sweet, sugar and floral
  • Warm, typical for clear distillates

Industrial and inexpensive, and can easily replace cheap rum in mixed drinks.

I beg you, forgive me. I am but a simple man who found himself at the doors of a great university filled with booze. We were out of rum, and what’s a liquor cabinet without rum? It’s nothing—nothing worth writing about, for sure. But I am a poor, simple man, so I went to my local booze merchant to find the cheapest rum I could buy. This is a quest fraught with peril, because cheap rum is, generally, horrible. White or silver rums, below $20 for 750*ml*, taste like nail polish remover, even the big-name brands.

Bottle of Velho Barreiro Cachaça

A bottle of **Velho Barreiro** *Cachaça*, confusingly labeled.

So I studiously avoided them, and looked for something that might be inexpensive, but not awful. I saw a bottle from **Velho Barreiro** which said it was aged and double filtered. Brazilian rum, I thought, sounds interesting. I completely ignored the bolded, black type that spelled out, *cachaça*. What settled it was the price: $12.99.

I took it home, and it sat on my shelf; all along, I thought it was rum. I served it to my wife and Melba, in a cocktail, telling them that it was rum. Putting a shot-full of it into a snifter, I tasted it, and I was incredibly impressed. It was sweet, no overwhelming vapor, no acetate. How did I get this incredible rum from Brazil for less than $15?

The difference between *cachaça* and rum, I would later find out, is that, while both are sugar-based distillations, rum is distilled from molasses, while *cachaça* is distilled directly from the sugarcane. What a difference. The esters that last through the distillation process in rum can be harsh, even though most are aged a year before bottling. (All this talk about harsh rums stops at oak-aged gold rums—I love me some premium gold rums.) But the *cachaça* was smooth, no harsh flavors. [In my subsequent research][1], I discovered that **Velho Barreiro** produces *industrial cachaça*, as opposed to *artisanal*, which explains the price. Should anyone find and pick me up a bottle of *artisanal cachaça*, I’m eager to see what barrel-aging does to the liquor. Only 1% of the *cachaça* produced in Brazil is exported, to anywhere in the world, so I may never see any of the *artisanal*. My funds to visit the motherland (of *cachaça*) are limited.

When I picked up the *cachaça*, it was next to all the rums, and, in fact, the United States classifies it as a rum, so I don’t feel that stupid for not realizing it was different. And it was a serendipitous discovery, in any case. I’m looking forward to trying it in [Brazil’s signature cocktail, *Caipirinha*][2]—ice, sugar, lime, and *cachaça*—all great ingredients.

The discovery that the bottle of **Velho Barreiro** was not actually rum came when Mrs. Ferment looked in our cabinet to find this rum I had been going on about. She could not; although, the bottle is long and has a yellow label. From an adjoining room, I incredulously said that it was right in front of her, but she was insistent that there was no rum. Of course, she was technically correct—the best kind of correct.

**Update**: The craft-process for distilling *cachaça* is “artisanal,” not “artesian.” I’ve corrected it in the article.