Here we have a very special installment of my 2009 Cachaça Tour documentary — a trip to Barril 39. Some of you may remember Barril 39 as the winner of the first blind taste test I held a little more than a year ago.
This tiny operation, passed from late father to son, is undergoing a period of transformation and renewal. The horse-powered cane-crusher atop the hill will be replaced by a modern electric one. New structures have been erected to handle each step of the cachaça-making value chain — crushing, fermenting, aging, bottling — whereas a very small room handled most of these tasks before. Further, each building stands lower on the hill than the next, making gravity do some of work for the small distillery.
All of this said, the old setup is a wonder of homespun ergonomic ingenuity. Proprietor Sérgio Azevedo's father originally arranged everything such that he could run almost all of the operation from his wheelchair. The fermentation tanks, for example, are smaller than usual and raised well above the floor, connected by a network of pipes and valves set within easy reach.
Of greatest interest is the product I have yet to taste: Sergio sent me home with a bottle of Barril 39's one-thousandth distillation, carrying the old "Terras Altas" label, from which only a few liters exist.
No, you can't have any. However, please enjoy the video and the slideshow.
I´ve been to a lot of alambiques, and i Love everyone of the videos! An interesting thing about cachaça is the history of the families behind it and the videos are great for that.
They really help people understand the craftsmanship behind a true “cachaça artesanal de alambique” as oppose to many products that where first exported.
Is that another azulada on the slide show? I tried to track some down here in Minas, but could not find it.That really has to be something local, only common in Paraty...
I went to a cachaçaria with many hundreds of cachaças this week they had the Coqueiro line you mentioned, but not the azulada… quest continues…
Posted by: Tony Harion | October 19, 2009 at 11:56 PM
Thanks for coming back! Glad you enjoy the series.
Nope, no Azulada here. As to whether it's only to be found in Paraty? I'll have to ask but, now that I think of it, the only three places where I found Azulada *was* at Coqueiro, Engenho d'Ouro, and Maria Izabel -- all Paraty.
If cachaça continues to take off, I would hope someone has the budget and vision to bring azulada to the U.S. It opens up a world of possibilities for cocktail-making, that's for sure.
When you do find some, please take a photo and send it in, or publish it somewhere I can link to.
Posted by: Phil | October 20, 2009 at 08:19 AM