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Cachaça is just beginning to make its mark worldwide. However, this New World spirit is hardly new. In 1532, the Portuguese moved sugar production to Brazil and distillation of the plant into cachaça began shortly thereafter. Today, cachaça is the most popular spirit in Brazil with thousands of brands in existence that range from the cheap and plentiful to the rare bottlings that cost hundreds of dollars. Just like whiskey and beer, many cachaça brands are part of a craft movement that is gaining momentum. Only few brands were exported historically, but even small-production, artisanal cachaça can be found on the world’s shelves today. Cachaça is made from cane juice pressed straight out of raw sugarcane stalks. The fresh juice is fermented and then distilled into the beloved Brazilian beverage. Some rums, usually labeled as Rhum Agricole, are made in the same way, earning cachaça the name “Brazilian rum” in certain places. The major difference between cachaça and common rum is in the juice: most rum is distilled from sugarcane juice that has been processed into molasses, which has a higher sugar content. This makes cachaça have a more grassy, herbaceous flavor than its relative.

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