Strength: 40% ABV (80 proof)
The major difference between cachaça and rum is that rum is usually made from molasses, a by-product from refineries that boil the cane juice to extract as much sugar crystal as possible, while cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is fermented and distilled. Rhum agricole of the French Caribbean is also made by this process, cachaça is also known as Brazilian rum.
Cachaça, like rum, has two varieties: unaged (white) and aged (gold). White cachaça is usually bottled immediately after distillation and tends to be cheaper (some producers age it for up to 12 months in wooden barrels to achieve a smoother blend). It is often used to prepare caipirinha and other beverages in which cachaça is an ingredient. Dark cachaça, usually seen as the "premium" variety, is aged in wood barrels and is meant to be drunk straight (it is usually aged for up to 3 years though some "ultra premium" cachaças have been aged for up to 15 years). Its flavour is influenced by the type of wood the barrel is made from.
There are very important regions in Brazil where fine pot still cachaça is produced such as Salinas in Minas Gerais state, Paraty in Rio de Janeiro state, Monte Alegre do Sul in São Paulo state and Abaíra in Bahia state. Nowadays, cachaça's producers can be found in most Brazilian regions and in 2011 there were over 40,000 of them.
In the United States, cachaça is recognized as a type of rum and distinctive Brazilian product after an agreement was signed in 2013 with Brazil in which it will drop the usage of the term Brazilian rum.