Novo Fogo (Cachaca)

Cachaca today, with Novo Fogo. Located in the heart of Brazil’s coastal rainforest, Floresta Atlântica, Novo Fogo is special in many regards. They distill in in tiny batches of only 130 liters using a small pot still (see picture below), don’t use any chemicals to grow their cane which grants them the USDA organic certification, ferment with a wild yeast that has been cultivated from their very own cane and call themselves a zero-waste distillery. To me, that sounds exciting so let’s see what that tastes like.

Novo Fogo Silver (40%): Nose: So much better than basically any other unaged Cachaca I’ve had before. It isn’t complex at all, but super mellow and just lovely. This cinnamon note paired with tonka, vanilla and this fruity touch (citrus, Nashi) that is popping-up here and there is just great. If this had a few more nuances and just a wee bit more power, it could have the potential to be a real “sniffer”. Palate: Flavourwise, there is absolutely nothing to complain about, as the combination of pear, citrus, cinnamon and vanilla is really nice but the low abv doesn’t transport those notes with the same success as we are used to with most comparable Rums. Even just 45% would have been really helpful, I think. Finish: Relatively short, but mostly because of the low abv. I am really curious what the subsequent, aged version with an ever so slightly elevated abv have in store for us! (82/100)

Novo Fogo Chameleon (43%): This is (supposedly) the same base material as the “Silver” but it has been aged for one year. Nose: Indeed, a slightly more mature and more intense version of the silver. It kinda loses a bit of this mellow touch but presents us a somewhat more complex profile where we have to add nuts (coco- and hazelnut), hints of milk chocolate and now even a few more grassy notes. Palate: Hazelnut and milk chocolate would be my first associations again, but cinnamon, vanilla and citrus can all be found as well. It is amazing how one year in the barrel shaped this spirit, masking its distillery character a bit. Finish: Clearly longer than that of the Silver with the nuts and wood, mostly. Then more spices from the cask which we didn’t really pick up before. While it is not the Chameleon its name suggests, it is a very nice one that I’d rate a tad above the Silver. (83/100)

Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged Cachaca (40%): Just like the “Chameleon”, just that this is a two years old Cachaca. Nose: This is the logical next step and basically what you’d expect. We pick up where the Chameleon stopped, add some wood and hints of dark, dried fruits, make the whole thing a bit drier, but also a bit less intense and flavourful. I really wonder why they reduced the abv for this one… Palate: Quite smooth but as we feared, a bit too watery and less aromatic/ flavourful than the Chameleon. What is more, I would have loved to get more of those dried fruits, which really only have a small cameo here. The texture is a lot better than with any of the previous two Cachacas but that’s not making up for what we lose elsewhere. Finish: Short to medium long with cinnamon, vanilla and wood. Still a decent one, albeit a bit too boring if you ask me. (78/100)

Novo Fogo Tanager (42%): Aged in oak and zebrawood. Now Zebra is an animal of course, but zebrawood refers to barrels where about half of the staves have been heavily charred whereas the other half was not (I am just guessing that this was the case here as well). Nose: Very dry and even less fruity than the Barrel-Aged. While there’s this hint of papaya and plums again, wood and spices seem to have taken over already. Crazy! Palate: Cranberry, cinnamon, strawberry, wood and oat form a rather weird mix that resembles a grown-up’s muesli, just with that dose of wood. The slightly bitter notes I am getting do not seem to suit this type of distillate too much and the barrel now took away quite a few of the notes from the distillate but I think that there will be someone else out there who likes that. For me, it doesn’t manage to strike that balance just like the Chamelon did. Finish: Relatively long with wood, spices and herbs such as mint, oregano and thyme. Where did these come from all of a sudden? It was really interesting and instructive to go through this sequence of ageing, but my preference seems to be with the 1YO. A really cool distillery nevertheless that is definitely worth checking out. (78/100)