Leblon has a video about industrial versus artisanal cachaça or, as it's often referred to here, "cachaça de alambique". For those unfamiliar with the differences, it's a must-watch and definitely worth six minutes of your time.
Photo Credit: Leticia Gomes
I actually met Paulo Magoulas (above) at a meeting of the Confraria de Cachaça do Copo Furado this past July. His explanation of the the key differences between the two production methods starts about a minute and forty seconds into the video. He's credited here as the president of the Brazilian Cachaça Academy in Rio.
As I recounted in an early post about my rating system, a wine journalist once told me that, at the end of the day, there were just three kinds of wine: "Good", "sucks", and "more please." If a producer that uses industrial methods creates something that pleases the palate, I don't much care whether they distilled the thing in a column still, pot still, or neighbor's kitchen sink.
(Okay... I'll admit... I'd care a little if it came from the sink.)
That said, what a distiller gains in volume he generally loses in control over the product, as well as overall character.
Sagatiba clearly sees a market for products produced in either fashion. Its Pura brand uses the industrial column-still method, while Velha uses the artisanal pot-still technique. Luxury Experience has the details.
I gave Pura a three-and-a-half-barrel rating, so I certainly didn't think it was a terrible result of industrial techniques. I still stand by my contention, however, that a lot of personality got distilled out of it. (I compared it to how "good" vodkas are supposed to kind of "disappear" into a mixer, which is a pretty terrible way to look at your craft if you happen to make vodka for a living.) A Pura-based caipirinha certainly isn't the "mortal sin" that Paulo says one commits by mixing with an industrial cachaça. (I save the "mortal sin" designation for folks who sneak from my cachaça stash.)
(Sidenote: I haven't yet gotten around to Velha, but the samples have been staring at me from the counter for months now.)
In any case, taste what you like. I won't judge. *8-)