Cachaca

What is Germana Cachaça?

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Germana is a handmade artisinal Brazilian spirit, produced from unrefined sugar cane juice and corn flour, and is regarded as one of the best quality cachaças (pronounced “ka-shah-sa”) in the world. Germana is aged in oak casks for 2-10 years which provides a unique and irresistible flavour, ensuring that it ages softer & filled with complexity. It was made famous for its use in the Caipirinha, one of the biggest selling cocktails in the world, but can also be served neat as digestive after dinner or with coffee. The Caipirinha is especially popular with bar and restaurant owners as it is cost effective & one of the easiest cocktails to make – it is simply refreshing and addictive. Germana is the perfect cachaca to use in Caipirinhas as it adds a smooth and distinct taste thereto, with a unique and irresistible flavour.

The History of Germana

The tradition of Germana dates back to over 100 years ago when Sergio Caetano and his Family settled at the Vista Alegre ranch just outside the town of Nova Uniao (New Union) in Minas Gerais State.

Minas Gerais is one of the most important states in the Brazilian economic structure, largely due to its rich mineral wealth as well as its cultural and political importance. The discovery of gold and diamonds in the middle of the 18th Century turned the village of Ouro Preto into one of the biggest and most important cities in the world, with more than 100,000 inhabitants against the 10,000 inhabitants of Buenos Aires and New York. The race for the gold of Minas Gerais, was according to Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, the greatest in the world at that time, surpassing that of California and Siberia. This golden age, was however short lived as the whole supply was depleted in only 50 years. This provoked the dispersion of tens of thousands of people, a phenomenon that explains the enormous amounts of cities (826 cities) and towns (about 3.000) as well as the impressive diversity of cultural wealth in Minas Gerais. The home of Germana, the city of Nova Uniao was a result of this dispersion.

The name Germana means something without mixture, pure, genuine. More importantly it also has its origins in a cultural-religious phenomenon which occurred in the middle of the 19th Century, when a nun called Germana, who lived next to a famous sanctuary Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Church of Ours Lady of Mercy), was martyred for claiming to have powers of a mystical nature and proclaiming revelations. Her powers attracted thousands of people in pilgrimages due to the remedies she prepared from Cachaça and local herbs. When the Caetano Family decided to start producing Cachaça on their Vista Alegre ranch, they resolved to pay homage to the custom of the region and its religious tradition, by awarding their Cachaça with the name of the mystical one, Germana. To this day, locals still make pilgrimage to Nossa Senhora da Piedade in respect of sister Germana.

The memory of Sister Germana is eternalized in a drink of high quality, with exceptional aroma as well as a original flavor and packaging, made in the age-old traditional distilling methods of Minas Gerais while employing new technologies of production, always keeping the consumer in mind and creating a spirit suitable for the most demanding of palates.

How Germana is Made

The production of Germana Cachaça begins with the growing of sugar cane. As with the making of all spirits, the quality of the sugar cane is imperative. The cane used in the production of Germana is grown on the Vista Alegre estate which stretches over 300 hectares. A large percentage of the estate consists of virgin rain forests, waterfalls and natural springs and all water used in the production of Germana comes from the mountain where the springs originate.

At Germana, Cachaça is a way of life, a passion. Attention to detail is paramount. The Cachaça made here is produced entirely by hand. Many high quality spirits producers claim to handmake their products, but not quite to this degree. When the production of Germana starts, all sugar cane is cut down by hand, using machetes, to make sure that the part of the cane with the best concentration of sugars is harvested. Cut cane is then immediately transported to the distillery on donkey back. Once cut, fermentation and degradation of the sugar cane starts immediately and haste is therefore very important.

Yellow corn, which acts as a fermentation starter, is still ground using methods in use 500 years ago. A small segment of water from the mountain spring is diverted to the distillery and past the grinder. Here a water wheel makes use of the momentum of the water to turn wooden cogs and gears which turn the stones that grind the corn to a fine powder. The corn also contributes to the taste of the final product.

The sugar cane is then processed through the only electrical machine (there is only one plug point) in the distillery, which grinds and extracts the juice from the cane. The juice is then fed through gravity to the fermentation tanks where the ground corn is added. Fermentation starts through a combination of the corn, sugars in the liquid and natural yeasts in the air. Fermentation takes place over two to three weeks.

Once fermentation is done, the liquid is fed to the copper pot still once again using gravity. The still is then heated up using the spent sugar cane fibers. Distillation takes place in very small batches, in shifts, 24 hours a day until the batch is finished. Pot Still Cachaças are only distilled once and ends up between 38% and 57% alcohol by volume. The single distillation largely contributes to the aromatic nature of Cachaça. Germana cuts out only the finest part of the distillate so as to ensure a spirit as pure as possible while maintaining the flavour elements that Germana is famous for.

The pure spirit is then rested in big vats made from an indigenous wood called Balsamo for a few months. This process aids in softening up the spirit. The Cachaça is then transferred to Oak barrels where it will age for 2 up to 10 years.

Once aged, the Cachaça is cut with water to 43% and bottled by hand. Each bottle is then carefully wrapped in the bark of the banana tree so as to protect the Cachaça from light and to help keep its temperature constant.

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