Review – Velho Barreiro Cachaca
The Brazilians are a sneaky bunch. Despite producing one of the world’s finest spirits in Cachaca, they keep the vast majority of it to themselves, only exporting a reported 6% internationally. This is a shame for spirit enthusiasts around the world who really should have the benefit of imbibing this fine spirit more often. Fortunately the Brazilians do export some excellent Cachacas, of which Velho Barreiro is most certainly one. Produced from sugar cane juice as with all Cachaca, it is double distilled before being aged in large oak vats for an unspecified time then blended and bottled in a delightfully old-school looking receptacle.
Neat: Much earthier than the nose would suggest and all the better for it as the marrow notes might have been a bit too much on the palate! Plenty of vegetal notes; very fresh and crisp but with a rounded flavour profile that lingers for an extraordinary length on the finish considering this is a white spirit. A moderate sweetness is perfectly judged and alerts the palate to this spirit’s origin from sugar cane. A touch of citrus lightens and the merest hint of cumin spice adds complexity. This is a very fine Cachaca indeed.
Mixing: The funky and bold vegetal flavours of this spirit assert themselves in mixed drinks in a manner that demonstrates just how good Cachaca can be. It is a real joy in a Caipirinha, where the citrus helps to highlight some of the woody notes that are almost smoky in their character. The less commonly encountered Brazilian drink the Batida is also a great success, particularly in the Batida Rosa where the pineapple works wonderfully in collaboration with the Cachaca’s flavour profile. This, and many others, is an intense-tasting drink which novice drinkers might consider to be a bit too much but that’s just a good excuse to drink more boldly-flavoured spirits! The signature Strawberry Batida (recipe below) is a more approachable drink but no less delicious. Whilst not the best of spirits to use in bitter-flavoured drinks, it is generally versatile and makes for an interesting twist on cocktails traditionally made with other white spirits. It is for example very tasty when substituted for Old Tom Gin in a Martinez, particularly if the Maraschino is subbed for some Green Chartreuse.
Signature Cocktail – Strawberry Batida
50ml Velho Barreiro Cachaca, 20ml Condensed Milk, 6 Strawberries, 10ml Lime Juice, 5ml Orgeat
Shake ingredients with ice and pour without straining into a glass over ice.
Velho Barreiro Cachaca is an excellent example of how good this category of spirit can be. The barrel ageing has helped enhance and add depth to the bold vegetal flavours to make it a fantastic choice for sipping or mixing alike.
Velho Barreiro Cachaca is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.