Cachaça production: from sugar cane to spirit




cachaça, sugarcane, production, tropical wood, barrel, aging, quality


Why was the work done: Cachaça, the oldest distilled beverage in the Americas, has great historical and cultural significance. A review of cachaça production is important to preserve tradition, standardise industry processes, promote innovation and quality. This review offers a comprehensive overview of current knowledge and advancements in cachaça production, covering regulation, process control, product quality and future developments.

What are the main findings: The production of Cachaça observes well defined regulations, with its processes encompassing both field and industrial practice. The review focuses on sugar cane cultivation, fermentation, distillation, and ageing in wooden barrels. It underscores the significance of regional factors such as climate, soil, and the varirty of sugar cane in shaping the sensory profile of cachaça. While a range of sugar cane cultivars have been developed and grown in different environments, further research on the adaptation of sugar cane crop is necessary. Fermentation of cachaça is spontaneous utilising the microbiota in the sugar cane juice. However, the use of wild sugar cane yeasts, complemented with commercial strains is increasingly used by producers. With regard to distillation, production of the spirit using copper still pots and ageing in tropical wood barrels remain prevalent in the industry.

Why is the work important: This review contributes to ongoing efforts to enhance the quality of cachaça. Whilst the importance of traditional production methods is recognised, this review embraces advancements in technology coupled with insights to future perspectives.


Download data is not yet available.


Alcarde AR, Souza LM, Bortoletto, AM. 2012. Ethyl carbamate kinetics in double distillation of sugarcane spirit: Influence of type of pot still. J Inst Brew 118:352-355.

Alcarde AR, Souza LM, Bortoletto AM. 2014. Formation of volatile and maturation related congeners during the aging of sugarcane spirit in oak barrels. J Inst Brew 120:529-536.

Amorim JC, Schwan RF, Duarte WF. 2016. Sugarcane spirit (cachaça): Effects of mixed inoculum of yeasts on the sensory and chemical characteristics. Food Res Int 85:76–83.

Böck C F, Helfer GA, Costa AB, Dessuy MB, Ferrão MF. 2022. Low-cost method for copper determination in sugarcane spirits using Photometrix UVC® embedded in smartphone. Food Chem 367:130669.

Borges GBB, Gomes FCO, Badotti F, Silva ALD, Machado AMR. 2014. Selected Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains and accurate separation of distillate fractions reduce the ethyl carbamate levels in alembic cachaças. Food Control 37:380-384.

Bortoletto AM. 2023. Rum and cachaça. In Hill, A. and Jack, F (Eds). Distilled Spirits. Academic Press 61-74.

Bortoletto AM, Alcarde AR. 2013. Congeners in sugarcane spirits aged in casks of different woods. Food Chem 139:695-701.

Bortoletto AM, Silvello GC, Alcarde AR. 2021. Aromatic profiling of flavor active compounds in sugarcane spirits aged in tropical wooden barrels. Brazilian J Food Tech 24:e2019071.

Bortoletto AM, Alcarde AR. 2015. Assessment of chemical quality of Brazilian sugar cane spirits and sugarcane spirits. Food Control 54:1–6.

Bortoletto AM, Alcarde AR. 2016. Assessment of ethyl carbamate contamination in sugarcane spirit (Brazilian sugarcane spirit). Beverages 2:28.

Bortoletto AM, Correa AC, Alcarde AR. 2016. Aging practices influence chemical and sensory quality of sugarcane spirit. Food Res Int 86:46–53.

Brazil 2005. Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento. Instrução normativa nº 13, de 29 de junho de 2005. Aprova o regulamento técnico para fixação dos padrões de identidade e qualidade para aguardente de cana e para cachaça. Diário Oficial da União: Seção 1, Edição: 124:3-4, 30 de junho de 2005. Brasília, DF.

Brazil 2022a. Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento. Anuário da cachaça 2021 / Secretaria de Defesa Agropecuária. Brasília: MAPA/AECS, 2022:29. ISBN: 978-85-7991-173-6

Brazil 2022b. Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento. Portaria MAPA Nº 539. Diário Oficial da União, de 26 de dezembro de 2022.

Briggs DE, Boulton CA, Brookes PA, Stevens R. 2004. Brewing: Science and Practice. Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, UK.

Cadahía E, Simón BF, Sanz M, Poveda P, Colio J. 2009. Chemical and chromatic characteristics of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines from DO Navarra aged in Spanish and French oak barrels. Food Chem 115:639-649.

Caetano D, Gonçalves Lima CM, Lima Sanson A, Silva DF, Hassemer GS, Verruck S, Gregorio SR, Silva GA, Afonso RJCF, Coutrim MX, Batiha GS, Gandara, JS. 2022. Chemical fingerprint of non-aged artisanal sugarcane spirits using Kohonen artificial neural network. Food Anal Methods 15:890–907.

Carpena M, Pereira AG, Prieto MA, Simal-Gandara J. 2020. Wine aging technology: fundamental role of wood barrels. Foods 9:1160.

Carvalho DG, Ranzana L, Trierweilera LF, Trierweilera JO. 2020. Determination of the concentration of total phenolic compounds in aged cachaça using two-dimensional fluorescence and mid-infrared spectroscopy. Food Chem 329:127142.

Castro MC, Bortoletto AM, Silvello GC, Alcarde AR. 2020. Lignin-derived phenolic compounds in cachaça aged in new barrels made from two oak species. Heliyon. 6:e05586.

Chatonnet P, Dubourdieu D. 1998. Comparative study of the characteristics of American white oak (Quercus alba) and European oak (Quercus petraea and Quercus robur) for production of barrels used in barrel aging of wines. Am J Enol Vitic 49:78-85.

De Freitas J, Wintz H, Kim J H, Poynton H, Fox T, and Vulpe C. 2003. Yeast, a model organism for iron and copper metabolism studies. BioMetals 16:185–197.

Duarte WF, Amorim JC, Schwan RF. 2013. The effects of co-culturing non-Saccharomyces yeasts with S. cerevisiae on the sugarcane spirit (cachaça) fermentation process. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. 103:175–194.

Golllihue J, Pook VG, DeBolt S. 2021. Sources of variation in bourbon whiskey barrels: a review. J Inst Brew 127:210-223.

Granato D, Oliveira CC, Caruso MSF, Nagato LAF, Alaburda J. 2014. Feasibility of different chemometric techniques to differentiate commercial Brazilian sugarcane spirits based on chemical markers. Food Res Int 60:212-217.

Hazelwood L, Daran J, van Maris A, Pronk J, Dickinson J. 2008. The Ehrlich pathway for fusel alcohol production: A century of research on Saccharomyces cerevisiae metabolism. Appl Environ Microbiol 74:3920-3920.

Jiao Z, Dong Y, Chen Q. 2014. Ethyl carbamate in fermented beverages: Presence, analytical chemistry, formation mechanism, and mitigation proposals. Compr 13:611–626.

Lachenmeier DW, Lima MC, Nóbrega, IC, Pereira JA, Kerr-Corrêa F, Kanteres F, Rehm J. 2010. Cancer risk assessment of ethyl carbamate in alcoholic beverages from Brazil with special consideration to the spirits cachaça and tiquira. BMC Cancer 10:1–15.

Lima CM, Benoso P, Pierezan MD, Santana RF, Hassemer G, Rocha R A, Dalla Nora FM, Verruck S, Caetano D, Simal-Gandara J. 2022. A state-of-the-art review of the chemical composition of sugarcane spirits and current advances in quality control. J Food Compost Anal 106:104338.

Lima UA, Teixeira CG, Bertozzi JC, Serafim FAT, Alcarde AR. 2012. Influence of fast and slow distillation on ethyl carbamate content and on coefficient of non-alcohol components in Brazilian sugarcane spirits. J Inst Brew 118:305-308.

Ljungdahl PO, Daignan-Fornier B. 2012. Regulation of amino acid, nucleotide, and phosphate metabolism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics 190:885–929.

Machado AMR, Cardoso MG, Sacz, AA, Anjos JP, Zacaroni LM, Dórea HS, Nelson DL. 2013. Determination of ethyl carbamate in cachaça produced from copper stills by HPLC. Food Chem 138:1233-1238.

Martini C, Margarido LA, Ceccato-Antonini SR. 2010. Microbiological and physicochemical evaluations of juice extracted from different parts of sugar cane stalks from three varieties cultivated under organic management. Ciênc Tecn Alim 30:808–813.

Medeiros ABP, de Matos ME, de Pinho Monteiro A, de Carvalho JC, Soccol CR. 2017. Chapter 16 - Cachaça and rum, p 451–468. In Pandey A, Sanromán MA, Du G, Dussap CG (eds), Curr Develop Biotech Bioeng. Elsevier.

Medeiros-Silva WK, de Freitas GP, Coelho Junior LM, Pinto PALA, Abrahão R. 2019. Effects of climate change on sugarcane production in the state of Paraíba (Brazil): a panel data approach (1990–2015). Climatic Change 154:195–209.

Mendonça JGP, Cardoso MG, Santiago WD, Rodrigues LMA, Nelson DL, Brandão RM, Silva BL. 2016. Determination of ethyl carbamate in cachaças produced by selected yeast and spontaneous fermentation. J Inst Brew 122:63-68.

Monjito NA, Silva AF, Costa GHG, Ferreira OE, Mutton MJR. 2014. Yeast CA-11 fermentation in musts treated with brown and green propolis. Afr J Microbiol Res 8:3515–3522

Mosedale JR, Puech JL. 1998. Wood maturation of distilled beverages. Trends Food Sci Technol 9:95-101.

Nóbrega ICC, Pereira JAP, Paiva JE, Lachenmeier DW. 2009. Ethyl carbamate in pot still cachaças (Brazilian sugarcane spirits): Influence of distillation and storage conditions. Food Chem 117:693-697.

Nova MXV, Schuler ARP, Brasileiro BTRV, Morais-Jr MA. 2009. Yeast species involved in artisanal cachaça fermentation in three stills with different technological levels in Pernambuco, Brazil. Food Microbiol 26:460–466.

Oliveira RES, Cardoso MG, Santiago WD, Barbosa RB, Alvarenga GF, Nelson DL. 2020. Physicochemical parameters and volatile composition of cachaça produced in the state of Paraíba, Brasil. Res Soc Dev 9:e504974409.

Paredes RS, Vieira IPV, Mello VM, Vilela LF, Schwand RF, Eleutherio ECA. 2018. Identification of three robust and efficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains isolated from Brazilian’s cachaça distilleries. Biotechnol Res Innov 2:22-29.

Portugal CB, Silva AP, Bortoletto AM, Alcarde AR. 2017. How native yeasts may influence the chemical profile of the Brazilian spirit, cachaça? Food Res Int 91:18-25.

Ravaneli GC, Madaleno LL, Presotti LE, Mutton MA, Mutton MJR. 2006. Spittlebug infestation in sugarcane affects ethanolic fermentation. Sci Agric 63:534-539.

Ribeiro-Filho N, Linforth R, Powell CD, Fisk ID. 2021. Influence of essential inorganic elements on flavour formation during yeast fermentation. Food Chem 361:130025.

Ribeiro-Filho N, Linforth R, Bora N, Powell CD, Fisk ID. 2022. The role of inorganic-phosphate, potassium and magnesium in yeast-flavour formation. Food Res Int 162:112044.

Rosa CA, Soares AM, Faria JB. 2009. Chapter 34: Cachaça production. In: Ingledew WM, Kelsall DR, Austin GD, Kluhspies C. The Alcohol Textbook. Fifth ed. Nottingham University press. Chapter 34:481-490.

Rossato JA, Costa GHG, Madaleno LL, Mutton MJR, Higley LG, Fernandes OA. 2013. Characterization and impact of the sugarcane borer on sugarcane yield and quality. Agron J 105:643.

Rota MB, Piggott JR, Faria JB. 2013. Sensory profile and acceptability of traditional and double-distilled cachaça aged in oak casks. J Inst Brew 119:251-257.

Saerens SMG, Delvaux FR, Verstrepen KJ, Thevelein JM. 2010. Production and biological function of volatile esters in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Microb Biotech 3:165–177.

Salmon J-M. 2006. Interactions between yeast, oxygen and polyphenols during alcoholic fermentations: Practical implications. LWT - Food Sci Technol 39:959–965.

Santiago DW, Cardoso MG, Nelson DL. 2017. Cachaça stored in casks newly constructed of oak (Quercus sp.), amburana (Amburana cearensis), jatoba (Hymenaeae carbouril), balsam (Myroxylon peruiferum) and peroba (Paratecoma peroba): alcohol content, phenol composition, colour intensity and dry extract. J Inst Brew 123:232-241.

Santiago WD, Cardoso MG, Duarte FC, Saczk AA, Nelson DL. 2014. Ethyl carbamate in the production and aging of cachaça in oak (Quercus sp.) and amburana (Amburana cearensis) barrels. J Inst Brew 120:507-511.

Serafim FAT, Pereira-Filho ER, Franco DW. 2016. Chemical data as markers of the geographical origins of sugarcane spirits. Food Chem 196:196-203.

Serafim FAT, Seixas FRF, Silva AA, Galinaro CA, Nascimento ESP, Buchviser SF, Odello L, Franco DW. 2013. Correlation between chemical composition and sensory properties of Brazilian sugarcane spirits (Cachaças). J Braz Chem Soc 24:973-982.

Silva AA, Nascimento ESP, Cardoso DP, Franco DW. 2009. Coumarins and phenolic fingerprints of oak and Brazilian woods extracted by sugarcane spirit. J Sep Sci 32:3681-3691.

Silvello GC, Bortoletto AM, Castro MC, Alcarde AR. 2021. New approach for barrel-aged distillates classification based on maturation level and machine learning: A study of cachaça. LWT - Food Sci and Tech 140:110836.

Souza APG, Vicente MA, Klein RC, Fietto LG, Coutrim MX, Afonso RJCF, Araujo LD, Silva, PHA, Bouillet LEM, Castro IM, Brandão RL. 2012. Strategies to select yeast starters cultures for production of flavor compounds in cachaça fermentations. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 101:379–392.

Vicente MA, Fietto LG, Castro IM, Santos ANG, Coutrim MX, Brandão RL. 2006. Isolation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains producing higher levels of flavoring compounds for production of ‘‘cachaça’’ the Brazilian sugarcane spirit. Int J Food Microbiol 108:51–59.

Vilela AF, Oliveira LSC, Muniz MB, Melo BCA, Figueiredo MJ, Vieira Neto JM. 2021. Assessment of sensory and physical-chemical quality, and potential for certification of cachaças from the state of Paraíba, Brazil. Food Sci Tech 41:661-668.

Zacaroni LM, Cardoso MG, Saczk AA, Moraes AR, Anjos JP, Machado AMR, Nelson D L. 2011. Determination of phenolic compounds and coumarins in sugarcane spirit aged in different species of wood. Anal Lett 44:2061-2073.

Zacaroni LM, Cardoso MG, Santiago WD, Gomes MS, Duarte FC, Nelson DL. 2015. Effect of light on the concentration of ethyl carbamate in cachaça stored in glass bottles. J Inst Brew 121:238-243.



14-12-2023 — Updated on 27-12-2023


How to Cite

da Silva, V. P., de Souza, J. B., de Queiroz, A. L. M., Ribeiro-Filho, N., & Bezerra, T. K. A. (2023). Cachaça production: from sugar cane to spirit. Journal of the Institute of Brewing, 129(4), 259–275. (Original work published December 14, 2023)