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Cachaça is a people’s spirit and its history is inextricably tied to the history of slavery in Brazil, just as Bourbon’s history is inextricably tied to the history of poor Scotch-Irish immigrants to the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee. It has been made since the 1500s, which means that Cachaça is older than Rum, which began production in the 1600s.
As the Portuguese owners discovered the Cachaça that sugarcane juice fermented, they imported their own stills. As Portugal had inherited its traditions from the Arabic Ummayyad history of the Iberian Peninsula, they use cognac style stills in order to distill the garapa, or mash-bill. The use of pot stills, combined with talented distillers, caused the creation of an industry. The history of Cachaça is a history of agricultural landowners. The plantation owners would utilize stills to create a bourgeois product for their consumption, and even today you see educated landowners retiring to produce Cachaça on the family farm.
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