One of the great spirit categories we’ve discovered since running Drink Spirits is cachaça. Made in Brazil from sugar cane juice, good cachaca has wonderfully vegetal and sweet tones, is easy to drink, and has a nice level of complexity. In some circles cachaca is still seen as “fire water,” and in Brazil some of the cachaca brands do have quite a bit of ‘heads’ in them which makes them burn as you drink them. But the cachaca making its way into the American market (with the exception of Boca Loca) is generally extremely well distilled and easy to drink.
Novo Fogo Cachaca is a brand which is clearly aimed at the American drinker. From its hand-made recycled glass bottles, recipe hanger tag on each bottle, and USDA Organic stamp, Novo Fogo Cacaca Organica is an extremely strong contender to be the cachaca that turns Americans onto the spirit category.
Novo Fogo Silver Cachaca (80 Proof – $30) – The nose is very vegetal and bold, combined with subtle tropical pineapple and banana. Underneath is a nice subtle honey, syrup undertone. The entry is surprisingly easy – we’d call it soft but the flavors are so bold. The taste is extremely flavorful and very vegetal with bell pepper, green bean, white pepper and salt. Underneath there’s a wonderful slightly yeasty tone. The finish is long and the vegetal bell pepper tones really linger.
Novo Fogo Silver Cacha manages a beautiful balance between a spirit that has a ton of flavor and one which is easy to drink. In the signature cachaca cocktail, the caipirinha, this cachaca meshes wonderfully with the sugar and lime while still maintaining its great vegetal character. Novo Fogo goes to the unusual length of resting this spirit for a full year before bottling it and that step has clearly paid off, resulting in one of the best cachacas on the American market. It’s easy to fall for this expertly crafted spirit. Very Highly Recommended
Novo Fogo Gold Cachaca ( 80 proof – $35) – Whereas the Novo Fogo Silver is rested for a year, the Gold is actually aged in small American Oak second-use bourbon barrels for two years before bottling. In the same ‘going the extra mile’ that Novo Fogo applies to their silver, with the gold they actually disassemble, pressure wash, sand, and re-toast their barrels. It’s an extraordinary step that very few distillers do.
The nose on the Novo Fogo Gold Cachaca is distinctly different from the silver, with a lot of sweet and nutty notes including caramel, banana, honey and pecan. The vegetal notes from the silver have clearly moved to the background, and present at the edge of the nose with an ever so subtle red pepper. The entry has quite a bit of influence from its time in barrel, with cinnamon spice and deep vanilla toffee. The influence of the American oak borders on dominance, but by the mid palate the cachaca flavors start to shine through and they linger at the flavor borderlines through the finish.
Novo Fogo Gold Cachaca gets a lot of nice qualities from its time in American oak barrels, and the intersection of flavors between the vegetal and tropical cachaca and the deeper vanilla, cinnamon and caramel from the barrel works well, but the American oak notes are a little too dominant. From our perspective the base spirit that Novo Fogo has before aging is so special, we wanted a little more of that to shine through. This small tweak aside, it’s still one of the best-aged cachacas on the American market and still well worth seeking out. Highly Recommended