The sugar cane brandy belongs to the noble family of the liquors, the eau-of-vie or aquavit. It is a distilled made from sugar-cane, yeasts and water. Its production process begins with the grinding of the cane, that produces a broth to which water is added, resulting in the must. Under the effect of the yeasts, the must enters in fermentation process. After the decantation, in which it separates the dregs, the distillation is processed at a still type of stills.

The first cut, or "head sugar cane brandy", contains a lot of alcohol and of all, it is the one that presents the strongest flavor. The cut of the middle, or "of the heart", is the one used to be industrialized. The final portion, or "tail", contains toxicant substances. The heart sugar cane brandy hardly presents taste or smell, it only acquires it with the aging in oak barrels or balm.

We can simplify the process of production of the sugar cane brandy in the following steps: cut of the cane, fermentation, distillation and aging.

CUT

The first step is the cut of the cane and the extraction of the garapa or juice of the cane that needs to be quite clean to obtain a quality product. In Brazil, the cane of sugar reaches the maximum point of sucrose between June and July and the ideal soil should have the pH between 4,5 and 6. Other important factor on the cut is that the green cane will produce methanol, what is undesirable in a good "cane".

FERMENTATION

The phase of the fermentation is where the sugar is transformed in alcohol. The fermentation is called handmade when it happens in a spontaneous way starting from the broken cane.

The tacky fermentation consists of introducing in the garapa catalytic agents as the maize flour, wheat bran, rice, soy or corn. In the handmade stills, the fermentation should last approximately 18 hours.

The industrial fermentation is induced by chemical agents.

In the fermentation phase is when the decision should be made of doing or not the infusion of fruits, herbs or other elements that, when fermenting with the garapa, they give flavor to the alcohol.

DESTILATION

This is the final phase of the sugar cane brandy production process. The fermented garapa is taken for the still where is heated up and the alcohol is pondered. As the alcohol has a lower evaporation point than the water, it comes off of the first garapa producing what is called "head sugar cane brandy", that is extremely strong, about 75o GL, and it has many not wanted elements such as the methanol. As the distillation continues, more and more water is added to the sugar cane brandy, arriving to the point where it almost doesn't have any alcohol. That is called the "tail". So, in order to obtain a higher quality product, great part of the head and the tail is cut off the load.

AGING

Starting from the distillation, the sugar cane brandy can be bottled or aged in wood. The important in the aging is to allow the oxidation of the alcohol. Then a metal recipient won't allow the appropriate aging for not allowing entrance of the air. Several wood types can be used as the oak, ipê, water wood, etc. The choice of a good aging recipient is fundamental for the final flavor of the product.

The sugar cane brandy, the most popular drink of Brazil, is defined by the Brazilian legislation as an alcoholic product obtained from the distillation of the sugar cane broth fermented, and it should present an alcoholic tenor between 38th and 54th GL.

 

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