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Cachaça is a Brazilian spirit distilled from fresh sugarcane juice. It differs from rum which is made with molasses and from rhum agricole which is distilled from boiled sugarcane juice.
Cachaça can vary in strength from 38% to 51%. It can be bottled aged or unaged. By law up to 6 grams of sugar can be added.
Cachaça is distilled in two different ways, yielding two different styles. Cachaça made in column stills is known as "industrial cachaça". This style is made in a continuous distillation in mass quantities, then sold to bottling companies who may adjust the spirit to their own specifications before bottling.
Cachaça made in pot stills is known as "artisanal cachaça". It is considered a better quality of spirit, and it is these that are often aged. The barrels used vary in wood used, but local varieties impart flavours to the spirit resulting in a truly diverse range of flavours.
The quantity of the spirit drunk by the Brazilian nation is vast, with 8 litres per capita being drunk annually, often made into the national cocktail, the Caipirinha.