An Interview with Leszek Wedzicha – UK Cachaca Festivals 2018

UK Cachaca Festival London and ManchesterCachaca is a Cane Juice spirit native to Brasil. It is often “lumped” in with rum. Some independent bottlers even label it as rum.

However as this fascinating interview with Leszek Wedzicha one third of the Cachaca Festivals UK team shows Cachaca is very much its own unique spirit. 

1. Leszek welcome to thefatrumpirate. Please tell us a little about yourself and
your background in the Spirits Industry.

Firstly I would like to thank you for the interview opportunity and the space you are
opening for Cachaca. My passion for Brazilian sugarcane spirit was born during my time spent in Brazil. I consider myself a Cachaca enthusiast . While learning about different producers and brands of Cachaca I came with an idea to organise some events. In the hope that they could help the whole Cachaca category be more recognised in the UK. I am also representing Cachacaria Weber Haus in various events in the UK and
abroad.

2. So tell us all what exactly is Cachaca? It is it rum or is it something completely
different?

Cachaca is a sugarcane spirit produced in Brazil. It is made from a distillation of fresh sugarcane juice and it’s alcohol volume (ABV) ranges from 38% to 48%. To which sugar can be add it up to 6 grams per litre.Cachaca was first distilled between 1516 and 1532 and it was first distilled beverage to be made in Latin America.

It actually makes Cachaca an older brother of Rum to my knowledge. Although Cachaca is made from sugarcane juice with similarities to rum, I believe
you can not call Cachaca a rum. Cachaca is recognized as a distinctive Brazilian product, having as its exclusive raw material the fermented “must” of sugarcane juice. Most rums  I would say 95%) are made from molasses. There are differences in ABV and wood use for aging. I think is just a matter of time before rum producers will age their rums in Brazilian native wood.

3. So how does it differ to Rhum Agricole? Would you expect a Rhum Agricole lover to enjoy Cachaca?

Rhum Agricole is also made from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice similar to Cachaca. It is a “terroir” shaped spirit. However, it is usually distilled to a higher ABV and has different origin. Having said that I believe Rhum Agricole fans will enjoy Premium Aged Cachaca.

I posted you un-named samples of Agricole Rhum from Martinique and 2 samples of Cachaca to compare and an additional extra premium sipping cachaca to try.

(This is a feature I will be writing about very soon to see how I got on identifying which was which)

4.Will Cachaca be a surprise to those familiar with Molasses based rum?

I believe so. But once we choose the right Cachaca type and the aged wood it
could be nice surprise. It is great in cocktails as well. These days everyone looks for origin.

People want more and more details, sugar content etc..The great thing about Cachaca is we know where the sugarcane comes from. Brazil produces organic Cachaca’s already. So we are ahead of the times in many respects.

5 How popular in Brasil is Cachaca? Is it really the nations spirit

Cachaca is the most consumed spirit in Brazil. It’s consumption is almost 5 times greater than that of Whisky (348 milion litres) and Vodka (270 milion litres). Brasil has an installed capacity of 1.2 billion liters per year. 70% of which is Industrial Cachaça (Column still and Continuous distillation) and 30% of Artisanal Cachaça (Copper Pot-still).

Currently, there are over 40 thousand producers (some 5 thousand brands) and micro-enterprises represent 99% of this universe. The sector is responsible for the generation of more than 600 thousand jobs, directly and indirectly.

6. How is it Cachaca consumed back in Brasil?

Cachaça is drunk in Brazil in various forms from Caipirinha, Rabo de Galo or Batida
and could be used as an ingredient for various cocktails. It is an extremely versatile drink. Remember it can be aged in over 30 different woods.

It can be consumed neat and brings a fantastic sensorial experience. In addition, many festive dates use cachaça to make seasonal cocktails like ˜Quentao˜, a kind of mulled wine made with Cachaça.

7. In which other countries beside Brasil is Cachaca popular? Does it have a global
audience?

In 2016 Cachaca was exported to over 50 countries with Germany followed by the United States being the higher importer. France, Portugal,Italy and Spain were also high in the ranking. The UK alone imported 396,949 USD* worth of Cachaca .You can find Cachaca all over the world these days.

* source Cachaca Export Ranking
http://indicadores.agricultura.gov.br/agrostat/index.htm

8. You have targeted the UK with the Cachaca Festivals? Why have you chosen  the UK? Have you ran festivals in other European countries?

I believe there is a market and huge opportunity for Cachaca in the UK. Sadly lack of
information about the spirit and strategies chosen by big Cachaca brands have not worked so far. Cachaca is always on side in Rum or Spirits events but I believe we have a fantastic product.

In the future we should look the different approach to show what Cachaca really is and get its rightful place in the market. To my knowledge these are first dedicated Cachaca festivals outside of Brasil and we are hoping to make these annual events.

9. What are your aspirations for the Cachaca festivals? Do you hope to entice rum lovers?

The idea is to make Cachaça known worldwide.

Show its versatility, different terroirs within Brazil (more than 26 states with the extension of Europe in scale) and make rum and cocktail drinkers passionate about Cachaça.

10. What about lovers of other spirits such as Whisky and Gin?

Cachaca is the opportunity to try something new. The woods present in the aging of
the cachaca can add all the palates.

11. Do you also enjoy Molasses based Rums?

Yes, I do. I am not an expert on molasses based rums but I have enjoyed for example: XM Royal 10 Year old Rum, El Dorado 15 and more recently Penny Blue from Mauritius.

12. What Cachaca brands do you think we should be looking out for?

There are so many great Cachaca producers. Unfortunately many of them are not
available outside Brazil. I would rather not mention the brands but please come and join us in the festival to discover how unique and special Cachaca can be.

Thank you Leszek for a fascinating insight into the wonderful world of Cachaca. Leszek makes up just one third of the Cachaca Festivals UK team. The festival is head up by the House of Cachaca.

Also involved are veteran Rum Festival Organiser Jon Rees who also puts together the Cardiff, Bristol and Exeter Rum Festivals under the UK Rum Festivals banner. Jon was particularly keen to get involved in the venture

“I have been running rum events in the UK for six years and wanted to showcase the diversity of sugar cane spirits. Having only know Cachaca as an ingredient for a Caipirinha, I was amazed at the taste that aged Cachaca had and the different woods used for aging. When I was asked to help with the Cachaca festival I jumped at the chance to help showcase this much-understated spirit in the UK”

Making up the trinity is Hugo Tolomei, born in Rio de Janeiro, is an economist. He has adopted Europe as a home and currently resides in London, England. Entrepreneur and spirit specialist, he is passionate about  good Cachaça and has as his dream to popularize Brazilian culture through the four corners of the world through caninha.

Details for the UK Cachaca Festivals 2018 can be found On Event Brite there are events in Manchester and London

Manchester is 7 April 2018 at the Britannia Sachas Hotel, M4 1SH 

London is 14 April 2018 at the Unit 5 Gallery E2 8NH

More details can be found on Facebook and Twitter should you need it. 

 

 

 

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