Cachaca - Beija
Importers: Beija Corp, Boston, Massachusetts
Ingredients: Sugar Cane Juice
PROOF: 80 (40%)
PRICE: $30.00 - 750 ML
Appearance: Sparkling pure on swirling, long legs develop on the nosing glass then tiny droplets forming.
Notes: This is not the usual type cachaca that you find imported to the United States - by usual, I mean the cheap aquadiente ("firewater") - type alcohol that is drunk by the poor and used by the better off to fuel their cars. There are 1000's of brands of Cachaca in Brazil most of which are thankfully NOT imported here. Prior to a few years ago drinking Cachaca was about as stylish as drinking Mad Dog or Night Train here.
Now it has been discovered (finally) in America and is used extensively in the Caipirinha as it is similar to the Mojito (a drink heavily marketed by the Microsoft of rum: Bacardi) both of which are simple and relatively fast to make.
Beija is marketed both as a Cachaca and recently was designated a "Virgin Cane Rum" a new category from the ATF/TTB as it could also be considered a a type of rum.
There are basically (at least for the sake of discussion) two types of Rum based on the method and/or type of production:
The first and by far most common uses molasses (cane syrup residue after the extraction of sugar-once considered a useless industrial waste) as the base. Probably 95-98 % of rum is made that way. The very descriptive French term for this method is Rhum Industrial.
The second much rarer (and expensive) method uses fresh sugar cane juice.This method is referred to as Rhum Agricole. It usually yields a lighter more nuanced spirit much closer to the taste of sugar cane rather than molasses.
First Impression: Like a good Rhum Agricole (such as the Clement or La Favorite Rums) this jump out at you with a rush of character and complexity.The boquet hits you as soon as you open the bottle: berries or fruit and brine mixed with herbal and fruit notes, slightly sweet, citrusy, lemon grass, tea.
Taste: Very smooth, not as sweet as many others (a plus in my opinion), tea and pepper notes with it hitting the middle of the tongue with traces of bergamot, tobacco and smoke. Salty overtones with a whisper of the tea notes and astringency. With citrus, lemon grass, playing off against the sweetness and a smokiness to it that reminds me of a single malt scotch or mezcal. . .
Slightly oily mouthfeel to it and a long dryish finish with a warm glow.
Drinks: The drinks we tried (many from their website) were excellent. We also tried our Sarachai - a mix of mint and (weak) regular tea with Beija added (sugar optional) and it came quite well. Another experiment was using it as a extra ingredient in a gin martini which also came put nicely - it blended some extra layers of complexity and some smoke to the martini.
"ALWAYS remember to cut your limes BEFORE you drink any alcohol."
Cigars: Good with a lighter type/size of cigar with a medium bodied wrapper. Maybe a Rocky Patel or a Fuente Short Story.Final Thoughts: We used to think that comparing Cachaca to Rhum Agricole was like cheap moonshine to bourbon. We are glad to see another cachaca that is not the case. This is an excellent if slightly idiosyncratic cachaca.The smoky/tea notes promise some interesting cocktail possibilities.
Bottle/Packaging: Distinctive frosted glass bottle, with a clear swipe overlaid with a brilliant green almost oriental calligraphic graphic. Cylindrical in shape, with a rounded shoulder to small neck and cork closure with green on black seal.
Quick-loading, excellent amount of information, drinks recipes, etc.