Monday, April 9, 2012

The USA Recognizes Cachaça (and Brazil recognizes Bourbon)

This week, Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, is making an official visit to the USA, stopping in Washington, DC, and in the Boston area. This is her first visit to the United States since she took office just a bit more than a year ago. There are a number of issues that she will be discussing with President Obama, and a number of agreements, diplomatic and commercial, that the two countries will sign during her visit.

During a lunch today at the White House, President Obama announced that in response to the tremendous increase in the number of Brazilians visiting the USA the United States planned to open two new consulates in Brazil - in the cities of Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre. This news was greeted with joy in Brazil, as visa regulations for Brazilians wishing to visit the USA require a personal interview at a US Consulate. In a country as large as Brazil attending an interview can require a large commitment in time and money, with no guarantee of receiving a visa.

Additionally (and of more importance to Flavors of Brazil) the two countries sign a commercial according to boost trade in Brazilian cachaça and in American bourbon (plus Tennessee whisky). In the USA cachaça will be recognized as a distinctly Brazilian product, and the name may not be used on spirits imported from any other country or manufactured in the USA. Equally, the names bourbon and Tennessee whisky in Brazil will from now on be restricted to whisky distilled in Kentucky and Tennessee respectively.

Up to the signing of this accord, the USA had required Brazilian cachaça to be labeled as "Brazilian rum." Although both rum and cachaça ultimately come from sugar cane, the two spirits are entirely different, cachaça being made from sugar cane juice and rum from molasses, and having to call their national spirit rum is something that has long irritated Brazilian cachaça exporters. Rum it is not - it's cachaça.

As soon as the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau amends their regulations and requirements, Brazil will do the same for the two types of American whisky.

Although by far the largest percentage of the world's USD$1.1bn in annual cachaça sales occur domestically in Brazil, the cachaça export market is growing rapidly. Up to today, the largest market outside Brazil is Germany, but Brazilian cachaça distillers hope that these new regulations will help them capture a part of the American imported-spirits market. The caipirinha cocktail, made with cachaça, is already trendy and becoming more common in the USA. Now Brazilians hope that cachaça itself will catch on with American consumers.


  1. Hi! Love this blog.

    However, I had a little bone to pick with this article. Rum is, by definition, a liquor distilled from sugarcane residues. This would include both molasses and cane juice. Haitian rum is also made of cane juice. So, cachaca is called rum, not for lack of a better term or for American appeasement but, because it is, in fact, rum.

  2. This is HUGE news because CACHAÇA is now to be used in the U.S., and Brazilian Rum is banished from usage! If you want to buy cachaça directly from the source, there are many Brazilian distillers that sell internationally. And most of these distillers either sell their own brand or will sell a “white label” for their clients. Brazilian cachaça distillers can be found using, Brazil's top B2B trade portal. contains over 20 cachaça distillers, many of which will produce “white label” productions for their clients’ brands. As global taste and demand for cachaça grows, the future for cachaça is bright.