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Cachaca vs Rum: What’s the Difference? (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on August 2, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Cachaça and Rum are quite the same thing if we look at the product source: sugarcane. However, the two spirits have an entirely unique flavor influence, separate history, and varying production processes.

To satisfy your curiosity, we spent 72 hours researching the similarities and differences between Cachaça and Rum!

Comparing Rum & Cachaca 

Rum & Cachaca on desk with glass

Although both sugarcane-based spirits have many similarities, it is totally inaccurate to say they are essentially the same thing. The interest in Cachaca rose during the Rio Olympics. 

Everyone called it the Brazilian Rum, which leaves one wondering if Cachaca is processed just like Rum. However, the distinctly Brazilian product is distilled from freshly pressed sugar cane juice [1].

On the contrary, most Rum is distilled from fermented sugarcane juice and has a unique flavor influence. Cachaca also differs in the length of the aging process, alcohol by volume. It uses indigenous Brazilian hardwoods, giving it a heavy spice influence. 

Closer Look at the Differences

Closer Look at the Differences

History & Origin

There is a huge difference between Cachaça and Rum’s history and origin. To answer the “who came first” debate, they were both invented by slaves. However, the Brazilian Rum was founded to predate Rum’s birth in 1532, being distilled on the first sugarcane farm in São Vicente, Brazil. 

On the other hand, Rum was born in the middle of the 16th century in British colonies, specifically in Barbados, Caribbean. So, calling Cachaça the “Caribbean Cachaça” is generally blundering.

Base Ingredients

Base Ingredients

Both spirits also differ in base ingredients. Though both spirits came from sugarcane juice, the difference is Rhum Agricole (freshly pressed sugarcane juice) is a closer stylistic match to Cachaca. Aside from that, it is only harvested in Brazil. 

Meanwhile, most Rum can be made from different types of sugar by-products such as molasses, raw sugar, honey, and demerara sugar [2]. Thus, Cachaça is a distinctly Brazilian product with a nutty, fruity combination and greatly differs from Caribbean-based Rums. 

Also Read: Our Favorite Cocktail Recipes

How It’s Made

Distillation Process

Talking about the distinctive funkiness each spirit has to offer, Cachaça is distilled right away upon harvesting sugarcane juice (or within the day). It’s to prevent it from getting spoiled and only distilled once. 

On the other hand, Rum spirit’s is distilled from by-products of sugarcane, mainly molasses, and normally distilled twice.

Aging Process

Cachaça can be consumed without aging called (White Cachaça or Branca) and comes in silver or aged Cachaça (Prata), similar to Rhum Agricole. The Brazilian Rum has a shorter aging process, not exceeding three years. In contrast, Rum’s maturity can be from seven to 20 years.

Also Read: Rum vs Vodka

Range of Woods Used For Aging 

Range of Woods Used For Aging 

Another hiccup arises when the aging process is brought into the picture. The aging process of Rum, Cachaça, and other spirits is mostly affected by the variety of woods used for storing. For aged Cachaças, they use indigenous Brazilian hardwoods such as Amburana wood and Zebrawood, giving the spirit grassy and vegetal flavors. 

Jequitibá Rosa is also used for barrels with a nutty, fruity combination. Rums are stored to age in Scotch whisky barrels, ex-Sherry casks, and former bourbon barrels constructed to age other spirits. In short, aged Rum can be stored in American oak and other woods.

Country of Production

Being the birth country of Rum, there is no better place to purchase the spirit than in Barbados. Nonetheless, for resident expert Jake Emen (as featured in Paste readers’ chime to answer the most pressing booze concerns), trying out Rum across the world can be quite confusing. 

The good thing is, you can grab these goods at places selling one the best productions, including Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Martinique, and the United States. However, take note that Brazilian Rum is only produced in Brazil. 

Production Restriction

Production Restriction

Even though Rum originated in the Caribbean, it is widely produced across the world since there are no product restrictions. Thus, it can have a complex spirit, depending on the region or country it was produced in.

Most outstanding Rums are produced in Asia, Mexico, South America, and the United States. However, the Brazilian law has implied a good measure of making Cachaça distinct in the county since the spirit should only be made in Brazil to be called Cachaça.

Taste, Flavors & Aromas

Rum and Cachaça have their distinctive funkiness. Expect each type to offer a different taste and aroma for Rum that has several categories produced (including clear, gold, black, dark, navy, vintage, overproof, spiced, and premium). Here’s more on what rum tastes like

Meanwhile, Cachaça only comes in two flavors – the unaged White Cachaça and aged Silver Cachaça. Cachaças are expected to have vegetal flavors, nutty flavors, and a nutty, fruity combination offered because it’s stored in indigenous Brazilian hardwoods.

Alcohol By Volume Level

Rum & Cachaca Alcohol Level on table

Calling Rum the kill devil is by no means an exaggeration since its alcohol by volume level exceeds the distillation of Cachaça, which is only 38% to 48%. Although Cachaças exported to the United States may exceed the 40% limit, the legislation does not allow it to go beyond. 

The alcohol by volume level is normally around 40% to 56% for the kill devil spirit. You can consume the spirit with up to 75% alcohol by volume level if you want something extreme. 

Price & Value

Other than the production process, Rum and Cachaça have a disparity in pricing. If you’re purchasing a bottle of Cachaça, it will cost around $30 and between $50 to $150 per barrel. Nonetheless, a bottle of Rum will cost around $11 to $30. 

Thus, the difference between Cachaça and Rum is that the former is a bit pricier but has less alcohol content. Rum is cheaper but has a stronger alcohol influence considering price and value.

How Are Cachaca & Rum Similar?

How Are Cachaca & Rum Similar?

Rum and Cachaca share similarities in the sense that:

  • They were both invented by slaves working to create sugarcane fermented juice.
  • They can be both consumed unaged or aged and have two main types.
  • They are both stored in wooden barrels for the aging process.
  • They both have considerably high amounts of alcohol content.

FAQs

Can I substitute Rum for Cachaça?

Yes, you can substitute Rum for Cachaca. If you don’t find the alternative Rhum Agricole, substituting Cachaca with light Rum or white Rum is recommended. Instead of Caipirinha, using Rum as a substitute is called Caipiríssima.

Why is Cachaça not Rum?

Cachaça cannot be called Rum, for they have different production bases. Rum is commonly made from molasses, a sugarcane by-product. In contrast, Cachaça is made from freshly pressed sugarcane juice. These two are entirely different products, despite being extracted from sugarcane.

Is Cachaça sweeter than Rum?

Yes, Cachaça is sweeter than Rum. Since it is made from raw sugarcane, it is sweeter, and it keeps its grassy and vegetal flavors. On the other hand, Rum is extracted from processed or cooked sugarcane, thereby losing its fresh flavors in the process.

Key Takeaways

To sum up, Cachaça and Rum were both born from an unfortunate separate history of slavery. However, though slaves specifically invented them, these spirits had an extraordinary impact on all walks of life. Rum is cheaper but has a stronger alcohol influence, while Cachaca has a sweeter taste. 

To help you answer your own question, no matter the differences between these two, Rum and Cachaça will surely suit anyone’s taste and serve as great additions to everyone’s liquor shelves!

References:

  1. https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/cachaca-spirit-brazil/index.html
  2. https://www.thrillist.com/spirits/Rum/cachaca-vs-Rum

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