As many of you know, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a five-day, six-stop tour of artisanal cachaça distilleries around Rio de Janeiro state in August. The result is a multi-part video travelogue that I will eventually post in its entirety.
This spirit of this work, of course, is the same as the one that governs this blog: I don't presume expertise, but I hope to provide an online platform for the shared exploration of Brazil's national spirit. (I'm also not a pro broadcaster... clearly!)
My first stop was Coqueiro, which I first learned about early in this blog's development. My Flickr-scanning uncovered a bottle of one of their flavored products, signed by Neil Gaiman.
A random visitor — "Frank (from Holland)" — offered additional context:
I can give you some background information on Coqueiro:
It's a cachaca from Paraty, they call their distillate 'Pinga' (english: drop) there.
Coqueria sells a lot of cachaça's with flavors like pineapple and other fruits. The one in the picture is probably a 'caramelizado' flavored with syrop.
Paraty is traditional town on the green coast 150 km from rio de janeiro city with a great tradition for cachaça, they still have a dozen traditional distilleries (alambiques). Yearly they have their pinga festival.
Coqueiro introduced me to a cachaça variety known as azulada. Essentially, it involves adding tangerine tree leaves to the fermented cane juice during the distillation process. This leaves the cachaça with a light citrus taste and, when the light hits it just right, a heavenly blue hue.
They sent me out to my next stop with a complimentary bottle in-hand. Let me tell you: making a caipirinha with this stuff is amazing. A ton of other possibilities, though my limited stash prevents me from doing too much experimentation. Little chance of me getting an azulada hook-up in the U.S., unfortunately, so I'm going to have to make my liter last.
For aging the cachaça, Coqueiro principally uses two woods: the familiar oak and the more unusual amendoim. The latter (literally "peanut" in English, but with no real relationship to the actual legume) imparts minimal color and flavor characteristics to the cachaça. Ipê barrels are also often chosen for this reason.