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March 21, 2009


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Seagrams Brazilian Rum tastes very much like tequila to me.

Hello... Capn Jimbo here, of The Rum Project and Rum Project Forum:

Let me clear this up for you. Unfortunately your citation of Ed Hamilton fails. On this page Hamilton states that cachaca "must be distilled to between 38 and 48% abv". Yet on his "Rum 101" page he contradicts himself and states it is "distilled to between 38 and 54% alcohol by volume".

Let me clear this up.

Here's the real deal: According to Brazilian law, cachaca must be distilled from 38 to 54%, but BOTTLED at 38 to 48%. Bottom line: the Seagrams product is absolutely cachaca in accord with Brazilian law.

Unfortunately until recently in the U.S. any spirit derived from sugar cane must be labeled as a rum - so cachaca imported into the US was called "Brazilian Rum." This apparently changed recently.

Bottom line: Seagram's "Brazilian Rum" is absolutely, positively cacahca in every regard.

Hope that helps. Do stop by The Rum Project where we have reviewed a number of cachacas and rums (more than 100)...

As Capn Jimbo pointed out there was an inconsistency on one of the more than 50,000 pages on the Ministry of Rum website (corrected earlier last year). Cachaça is a spirit distilled from fresh cane juice or melado, boiled cane juice, (not molasses) to not more than 54% abv and bottled at between 38 and 48 % abv.

Since Seagram's Brazilian rum is distilled to 55% abv, according to Pernod, the parent company, they call this spirit Brazilian rum.
In the US, rum is a spirit distilled to less than 95% abv and bottled at not less than 40% abv. In the US, cachaça is also considered to be RUM but there is work being done to change that classification.

It's a pretty fine distinction, but if it's being distilled at 55% ABV and the upper bound for cachaça is 54%, wouldn't that put Seagram's product outside of the limit? By kicking it up a percentage point, it almost sounds like they're specifically trying to make sure that their product will not be labeled as cachaça while being able to hedge their bets by flirting with the dividing line. If, down the road, cachaça actually takes off as a product category in its own right, they can always modify their distillation technique a smidge and slide back under the line.

Ultimately it's going to be something of a philosophical distinction, but it seems to me that Seagram's is trying to have it both ways.

I think that Jordan has it figured out. Capn Jimbo in his never ending quest to find fault with Ed Hamilton ignored his own post and came up with the wrong answer by 1 percentage point. He has a bone to pick with the MoR. Visit his Rum Project to confirm. Ed Hamilton just ignores him! Anyway, one thing is evident after tasting this Seagram's product: It's pretty darn good!

No I'm a big fan of the Preacher. As are the Burr Brothers, and Dori over at the Polished Palate.

A super guy, one of the best, without whom the world of rum would be impoverished.

In the instant case, it is only fair to say that:

1. I was wrong. But was I really? Cachaca's max distillation is at 54%, and allegedly Seagram's is distilled at 55%. Now if you can taste a difference you're a better man than I. Practically speaking - it's a cachaca.

2. Although I'd take abundant issue with dear Mr. Hamilton's claim of "only one mistake in 50,000 pages", it remains... a mistaken claim on the website. And mentioned only as this citation was raised by the OP.

But I do agree that Seagram's is navigating the razor's edge with a legal, but not practical difference or as better said, featuring a distinction without a difference. Or vice versa.

So let's summarize. How bout we call Seagram's the "barely legally non-cachaca" cachaca? Unless of course the Hamilton crew would prefer to call it an agricole, lol. Your lawyer may know the difference. Your tongue won't...

A great product.

Is it worth $11 for a 1.75 liter bottle? It is on closeout in Pennsylvania at the state run liquor stores. Some 750ml bottles are also on closeout at $6.

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About Cachaçagora

  • Hi. My name is Phil Gomes. By day, I work at a public relations firm as its senior vice president of digital integration. I'm a proud SF East Bay native who currently lives in Chicago.

    I was introduced to cachaça by my wife, a Carioca. Her mom, in turn, is the president of the Confraria de Cachaça do Copo Furado, a group that meets monthly to talk about Brazil's indigenous spirit. I participated in one of their meetings when I vacationed in Rio in July 2008.

    This started me thinking about the basic question of whether cachaça in the U.S. is today where, say, tequila was some decades ago.

    So I decided to start this blog as a means to record and share the cachaça-related items I've been seeing day-to-day. I hope to be sharing recipes, impressions, and random thoughts as the U.S. continues to catch on to the potential for this particular spirit.

    Oh... The name? "Cachaçagora" is a portmanteau of "Cachaça" and "agora", which is the Portuguese word for "now". In Greek, "agora" also means public square. I hope to meet the expectations of both.


    cachacagora~~ at~~ gmail~~ dot~~ com

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