Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Checking out the Cachaca

I have mentioned cachaca ( pronounced Ka-shassa) a few times in my blogs so far, so most of you will already know that it is a spirit made from sugar cane.  Those of you who like a few cocktails may also know that when added to lime and sugar it forms that most Brazilian of cocktails, the caipirinha.

It is similar to rum, but differs in that it is made from fermented and distilled fresh sugar cane juice, rather than from the molasses that are left after the sugar cane has been boiled. Paraty is one of the traditional and most important cachaca producing areas of Brazil, so much so that at one stage it was apparently known as Paraty.  These days cachaca goes by various pseudonyms including pinga and aguardente - not to be confused with the aguardiente from Colombia.

As we have sampled a few cachacas and caipirinhas we obviously couldn't be in Paraty without visiting a cachaca distillery.  We got on a bus to Penha, and went to Engenho D'Ouro, which is a small distillery making a number of different cachacas.

After a quick explanation of the process, and a look at the model of the equipment used, we got on to the important business of tasting them.

There were three simple cachacas, one that was the basic distilled version, one that had been aged in Brazilian wood casks, and our preferred one that had been aged in French oak.

Then there were flavored ones.  We weren't so keen on the bluey coloured one that was infused with tangerine leaves, but we liked the one with cloves and the caramelised one.  Needless to say we bought a few.

With our bottles safely packaged up, we were a bit early for the bus back, so we took a quick look around the outside of the church that was perched atop a big lump of rock, and peeked down the start of the gold trail.

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