Saturday, April 16, 2011

Leblon Cachaça - What Do The Critics Say?

After completing yesterday's post on Leblon cachaça and its American CEO, I went out here in Fortaleza to check availability of the product in supermarkets and liquor stores in my neighborhood (and perhaps to pick up a bottle, strictly for research purposes of course). I wasn't able to find any in my usual spots. There were industrial cachaças and artisanal cachaças, there were local bottles and some from other regions of Brazil, but no Leblon. I'll keep looking, but I'm beginning to suspect that the company is more focused on the export market than the Brazilian domestic one.

Failing to obtain a bottle of the stuff, I thought I'd check out a few internet sites that have reviews of liquor to see what the online experts and liquor bloggers have to say about Leblon. Most of what I found was quite positive, including a review on the blog that I consider the most informed source of cachaça lore and information - Cachaçagora. In September 2008, the blog published a glowing review of Leblon in an article which contains the usual Cachaçagora of serious discussion of cachaça and humorous personal anecdotes. (If you want to know what a gringorinha is, here is a link to the article). The blog's author suggests that one reason for his high opinion of Leblon might be the fact that the product is aged in XO cognac casks which give it a distinct flavor. He highlights Leblon's "featherlight smoothness and cane-rich aroma". He also approved of the spirit's "light fruity notes with just the right bit of 'earthiness' that some cachaça makers seeking northern-hemisphere markets try their best to soft-pedal."

Somewhat less complimentary was the review on a site called Liquor Snob. There, the fact that Leblon carries some of the astringency characteristic of inexpensive cachaças and the distinctly rummy sweetness of the product met with some disapproval. However, they summed up their review by saying that Leblon was "Good but not great, especially for the higher price. We were a bit disappointed with Leblon after all the hype we've been hearing. It wasn't bad by any means, and we're of the opinion that a middling Cachaca is better than nothing, but we wanted to be blown away." Drinkhacker's opinion mirrored Liquor Snob's and the blog gave Leblon a B+ rating.

If and when I find a bottle of Leblon, either here in Brazil or on a trip to North America, I'll add a Flavors of Brazil review to this blog. Until then, if any of our readers have personal experience of Leblon, please leave a comment (and a review).

Cheers!

5 comments:

  1. hello There, thank you for the great quality of your blog,
    and the inspiration to love healthy foods each time i come
    here, i’m amazed.

    -Kathy
    www.healthandwellnessconsultants.com

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  2. Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate them.

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  3. The first time I ever heard about Leblon was about 2 years ago, here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I have never, ever, heard about it, or seen it in Brazil. I am not an expert to judge cachaça's quality, but I feel kind of weird about Leblon because when I tell my friends about cachaça, Leblon does not feel like something authentic, at least to me, since it is not something Brazilians would buy and drink in Brazil. I'd rather tell them about 51 (which is sometimes available around here) just because I can relate to it as something very Brazilian.

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  4. Thanks for the comment. I understand your reluctance to recommend Leblon, and definitely 51 is a much more typical cachaça (being that it's nice and rough!)

    I do think that Leblon is very clever in marketing its product, and considering how unadventuresome many American palates are, it is probably a good way "into" cachaça for many people. With luck, they'll then be inspired to move on to discover just how large the world of cachaça really is.
    JAMES

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  5. I lived in Brazil for a while and I miss a good Caipirinha. I am not a big fan of Leblon. Not even in Caipirinhas. And you won't find it in Brazil. There you will find Sagatiba, which is about the same grade, but it tastes a lot better. If you're looking for a good industrial brand that tastes great try Nega Fulo. They have a cachaca aged in oak - Nega Fulo Carvalho - that is really good. On the mean time I'll stick to the caipiroskas with Absolut Vodka.

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