The term “rum” is broadly used to define any alcoholic liquor distilled from sugarcane. This means any spirit produced from sugarcane or its byproducts is considered rum. From swizzles, mojitos, and daiquiris to punches and piña coladas rum drinks and rum styles come in as many varieties as there are countries that produce them.
So, what makes Brazilian rum different from the Caribbean rums that dominate cocktail menus and frat parties, and why is it called ”cachaça?”
One important difference is in the production process. Cachaça is distilled from fresh pressed sugarcane juice which is fermented and distilled while Caribbean rum is distilled from molasses, a byproduct of sugar production
However, the most significant difference is the product’s origin. Just like only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France can be called champagne, cachaça can only be produced in Brazil. Rum can be produced in any country that grows sugarcane and a lot of rum comes from the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, and if the rum is distilled from sugarcane juice but wasn’t produced in Brazil, then it is called “rhum agricole.”
As for the word itself, the name cachaça has a lot of history. The name “cachaça” dates back to the 1500s and comes from the froth that would accumulate at the top of pots used to boil sugarcane in sugar mills. The workers tending to the pots were African captives who called the foam “cachaça,” and it was the slaves who first collected the foam and fermented it.