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A HANDCRAFTED CACHACA – RAINHA DAS GERAIS

rainhas-das-gerais-bottles-1

In New Orleans  i picked up a very interesting brand of cachaca i`ve never tried before – Rainha Das Gerais. This is an artisanal cachaca distilled in alembic copper stills and aged in oak barrels for 5 years.

When i open the bottle the nose that reaches me is sweet with a hint of sugarcane and vanilla. The flavour really surprised me, its deep and rich with a sweet buttery aftertaste that is just lovely. I have only detected this kind of buttery flavour in two other spirits before – El Dorado 3 year old cask aged white rum and in Elements Eight white rum.

The texture is like velvet in your mouth. The finsih is sugarcane and a hint of earth and oak. Actually a sip of this floods you with pleasant flavours. Its very very smooth but does still have a bit of fiery kick, perfect.

Oh my luck! i have a rare premium Cachaca here!

The more cachacas i try the more surprised i get as to how varied they are. So then to think that there´s about 5000 brands or more in Brazil its kinda mind boggling. I really would like to see more of them being exported. I`m especially interested in the artisanal cachacas, and i think artisanal is the way to go.

Artisanal cachacas are made with the traditional natural farming techinques without chemical spraying and buning of the sugarcane fields as well as using the natural yeasts growing on the sugar cane.

From what i hear, it seems that most part of the very good handcrafted cachacas isn’t exported outside of Brazil. This cachaca here is a small batched (only 5000 bottles a year) and its an amazingly tasty product. I wish more of these would find their way out to the world.

Rainhas das Gerais is handcrafted at a small farm and distillery in Minas Gerais. Raimundo – a chemical engineer by trade started to work producing cachaca in 2008. When Raimundo retired he decided to produce cachaca at the farm he already had as a way to keep in contact with his academic field and work as a chemical engineer.

Also having the new challenge of creating a high quality cachaca could be something that brings new ideas and more thoughts on a new rage of work. Having fun was also a big part on the project, this was the start of Rainha das Gerais.

It was first introduced to the public at the Feira cachaca (Cachaca Fair) in Belo Horizonte. Since then all the bottles carry the following sayings: ”Na terra de Grande Sertão Veredas reina a Rainha das Gerais” (in the land of Grande Sertão veredas reigns Rainha das Gerais)

This phrase make reference to the famous book “Grande sertão: Veredas” by one of the most amazing Brazilian writers, Guimarães Rosa. A good part of the book happens in the region of Brazil called Sertão (backcountry) that embraces areas including the north of Minas.

rainhas-das-gerais-fields-1

The Canavial (cane field) after the harvest.The left over ”leaves” called palha
after the cut are left in the field to retain the moisture of the coming rains,
prevent the growth of weed and also acts as a natural fertilizer.
At the right pic is the ”Carro de boi” on the way to pick up the recently cut cane.

The sugar cane is hand selected and hand harvested. The fermentation occurs without any chemical additives and the product is distilled in a copper pot alambique The intense artisanal hand labor help creating job opportunities on the countryside. It´s a natural process of production, sustainable and ecologically correct.

The aging in oak barrels and the Mineiro (Mineiro means from Minas Gerais) style of making cachaca are the two main ingredients that give this cachaca, produced in the Sertão (backcountry) of Minas Gerais, it´s unique personality.

It´s fundamental that the cane comes from our own farm Raimundo says. Only by growing our on cane we can assure the proper care during cultivation, the harvest techniques and to ensure the perfect timing between the harvest and the pressing of the juice.

The terroir is also very important for our cachaca. The region where our farm is located has a very well defined dry season and the temperature range between days and nights during this season is quite large. This results in a sugar cane ideal for the production of a quality cachaca.

The preparation of the yeast used in the fermentation takes 7 days and goes according to the tradition of the alambiques Mineiros (old distillers from Minas). No chemical yeast or additives are used and the yeast is natural from the farms environment, meaning that it uses wild yeast for the fermentation. The fermentation of each batch takes between 24 to 36 ours, occurring the formation of secondary compounds that help to give Rainha da Gerais it´s distinct flavor.

rainhas-das-gerais-alambique-copper-pot-still

Alambique copper pot still

The distillation using a copper pot still is a slow process, that helps in the oxidation of unwanted compounds enhancing the bouquet of the distillate.

The aging in Oak casks during 5 years develops in soft flavours and provides it´s golden color. After the aging process Raimundo samples the cachaca from every cask, and blends them to achieve and maintain the specific organoleptic properties of his cachacas prior to bottling.

To produce Rainha das Gerais. Raimundo has only 3 full time employees at the farm, during the harvest period 5 more temporary workers are hired. This results in a small production of only 5000 liters per year.

Finally the AMPAQ quality seal is attached. Ampaq stands for ”Associação Mineira de produtores de cachaça de qualidade” or Association of quality cachaça producers from Minas Gerais.

Something to be on the look for…

rainhas-ampaq-quality-seal

I think this cachaca sips wonderfully and i love the buttery flavour and sipping it is all i`ve done with it since i opened it. But i got to find out how it mixes in a fairly simple cocktail allowing the flavour of the cachaca to dominate.

RAINHA ON THE RISE

rainha-on-the-rise

2 oz Cachaca
small squeeze of fresh lime
0.5 oz honey and passionfruit syrup
Ting to top
crushed ice
1 slice of lime

Dissolve the honey in passionfruit syrup by heating it up a little, then cool. Shake all ingredients except Ting, strain and serve with crushed ice. Top up with Ting and garnish with a pineapple leaf and slice of lime.

Cachaca and fresh fruits are really made for each other…and what Ting isn`t made for please tell me! It may look quite unlikely but this drink is a twist on the Salty Dog sans salt.

My impression with Rainha das Gerais is that its one of the best cachacas i´ve had, i love its sturdy yet smooth buttery flavour and that`s the key – it has so much flavour!

The cocktail turned out nice and fresh but i wonder how it would be to mix this without any topping of Ting (wait..what? no Ting? did i say that? – yes i did…) and make it more like a caipirinha, that would let the cachaca shine even more and its something i`m gonna try another day.

Many thanks to Raimundo and Mauricio for letting me and many others sample this lovely cachaca, providing pictures and help with translation without which this post wouldn´t have been possible.

Sugarcane bar

 

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6 comments to A HANDCRAFTED CACHACA – RAINHA DAS GERAIS

  • Tony Harion

    Hey T!
    As you said there are indeed many other fine cachaças still to be uncovered here in Brazil.

    For a long time cachaça was misinterpreted by many people both inside and outside Brazil. It´s a good thing to see people being introduced to what cachaça really can be, and enjoying it.

    As you said, artisanal really is the way to go! It´s a shame most small producers can´t make enough of their products for it to be exported.

    The cocktail sound delicious! Unfortunately I’ll have to go for the variation without Ting. I can´t get it here :(

  • Shirow66

    Man this cachaça sounds really tasty! I’ve still only tried Pitu which is undrinkable. If this is anything like El Dorado 3year it must be fantastic.
    On a total off topic sidenote to Tiare, I saw they are selling Clément Créole Shrubb in November here in Sweden, might be something to pick up if you don’t have a bottle already.

  • Raimundo Ribeiro Vieira

    Dear Tiare,
    I’m very pride seeing your comments. They were so charmous and hot that I feel they came straigth from your heart! I’m very grateful! We have the intention to export but we still don’t have a distributer outside here. I’m looking forward to have the opportunity of meeting your next year in New Orleans.
    Thanks,
    Raimundo.

  • Oh, Raimundo, don’t leave Spain aside when you start exporting it to Europe!!
    : )

    Tiare, a pleasure to read you, as usual.
    Miguel.

  • Yes Tony, you are sitting on a gold-mine of cachaca..and what cachaça really can be has to me been a very nice discovery.

    Shirow66, yes this cachaca does have that buttery flavour in common with the El Dorado 3 year cask aged white, but apart from that there`s no more likeness, they are simply two totally different products. I`ll get the Shrubb!

    Raimundo, thanks for making such a nice cachaca and providing all those nice pictures, it wasn`t so easy to pick out just a few. I`m looking forward to meet you at the next Tales with Tony.

    Miguel, let`s hope one day we will see this lovely cachaca in Europe!

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