Reserva 51 Unica Extra Premium American Oak

Reserva 51 Unica Extra Premium American OakReserva 51 Unica Extra Premium American Oak. Cachaca 51 are the market leaders of cachaça in Brasil (so you might as well say the world). Their standard Prata and Ouro cachaca’s are readily available, in Europe and the UK. I think they also may export to the US.

The Reserva 51 range is the companies more premium offerings. They have 3 cachacas in this series. They have this Reserva 51 Unica (aged in ex-bourbon casks), Reserva 51 Singular (ex-bourbon and Amburana wood) and a Reserva 51 Rara (ex-bourbon and ex-South American Wine Barrels). At the very top of the range they have a Reserva 51 Carvalho Americano (ex-bourbon)

All the cachaca’s in the Reserva 51 range are aged between 4-5 years. The pricier Reserva Carvalho Americano, is aged in first and second fill bourbon barrels. The cachaça for review today as mentioned has been aged for 4-5 years, in ex-bourbon casks). It is bottled at 40% ABV.

Unlike a lot of the cachaca’s I have been reviewing, this cachaça is produced on a multi column still. Cachaca 51 are a big brand. So thy produce a LOT of cachaça. Artisenal production could not sustain such high volumes per annum.

The 51 brand are clearly aware that column distilled (or industrial) cachaça is often frowned upon. They have the following statement on their website

“The global leader of the segment is the Company Müller de Bebidas, producer of Reserva 51. With factories in Pirassununga, Porto Ferreira (State of São Paulo) and Cabo de Santo Agostinho (PE).

Despite these achievements, the industrialized cachaças are still victims of prejudice. Such pet peeve to cachaça is due to some myths. The most widespread points are that the distillates produced in large volumes, would be lower (in ABV) than those of (pot) stills. This is because the stainless steel columns commits some sensory characteristics of the final product. The columns, in fact, are 100% stainless steel, but only externally.

Inside the equipment, liquids and vapours come in contact with pipes and copper components.

Another myth about the industrialized cachaças says the column distillation separates the “head” and “tail” – that is, the unwanted fraction released at the beginning and end of the process carried out in stills. The noble part of the distillate, known as “heart”. The result, according to this belief, would be a drink with toxic substances from such as methanol, and an unpleasant taste and odor, due to the “tail”.

It’s not true, because the columns have outputs for ‘ head ‘ and ‘ tail ‘. Otherwise, any drink would bReserva 51 Unica Extra Premium American Oake unpalatable plus very dangerous.

A real risk to public health is the high informality and the reduced oversight of the sector. This does not apply to large manufacturers, always monitored by authorities and investing in the sophistication of its products.

In the case of Müller with the Reserva 51, which has been collecting awards at competitions in Brazil and abroad. Demonstrating that cachaça produced in columns can be as good or even superior, to those of pot still.

“What distinguishes good and bad cachaças are good practices in the production, and not the process.”

So there you go they are quite defensive about their production! Clearly they have heard the criticisms quite often!

Presentation wise Reserva 51’s range would not need any updating for the UK or European market. The decanter style bottles are great complete with chunky cork stoppers and a very modern design. Reserva 51 Unica retails at $R108 or thereabouts which is about £27. I would expect these to be around £60-70 where they to make their way to the UK. Should you want any further information on the brand here is the website for the Reserva 51 range.

In the glass we are presented with a very vivid looking golden brown liquid. Initial nosing reveals some spicy oak and some slightly bitter oranges – like a marmalade. There has been a lot of interaction with the barrel in the 4-5 years of ageing with this cachaça. Lots of spicy bourbon like notes – ginger, nutmeg balance alongside sweeter notes of vanilla and light toffee.

Milky chocolate and peanuts also come in and out of the mix, in what is a pretty complex nose. There are no off notes – no acidity or any soapiness. It’s really nicely balanced and quite “rum” like in many ways.

One last nosing reveals some sweet berries and currants. This is really very pleasant.

The first sip and initial entry reveals quite a lot of oak and spice from the barrel. Further sips reveal more of the sweeter elements of this cachaça.

The entry is a mixture of dark berries and spicy oak with a bitter overhang of marmalade. This moves nicely into a mid palate which is full of creamy milk chocolate, peanuts and some slightly sharp raspberry.Reserva 51 Unica Extra Premium American Oak

Finish wise it isn’t the biggest of finishes but what is there is nice and very well balanced. You get a really nice blend of ex-bourbon spices and some really nice sweet vanilla. It fades gently but is of a decent length.

Further sips of this cachaça – you end up getting pretty much everything that was on the nose. It’s really quite a complex spirit. Obviously at 40% ABV and column distilled it’s not a rip roaring monster of a drink but I really like it’s wonderful balance and easy going nature. There’s a lot of flavour here its just all nicely balanced and politely waits it turn.

A very tasty surprise.

 

 

 

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