Review: Maison Leblon Reserva Especial Cachaca
Aged cachaca is a surprisingly rare thing, but mainstream producers are finally getting in on the game. Leblon, which makes the ubiquitous and eponymous silver cachaca, makes this fancy version by taking its pot-distilled cachaca and aging the spirit for up to two years in new Limousin oak casks. Formerly available only in Brazil, it’s now on sale in the U.S. in limited quantities.
I compared Maison Leblon to the only other aged cachaca I had on hand, Ypioca Ouro. There’s a lot of similarity here, though Leblon is considerably darker in color (the new oak will do that), a nutty brown next to the golden/lightly green Ypioca.
Maison Leblon has a very strong character. Lots of wood, big fuel and rubber notes, grass and weeds. Tons of vanilla and a little honey here, too, which come on strong as the spirit develops, easing some of the savory and vegetal notes. It’s still cachaca at heart — funky, earthy, and somehow reminiscent of a tire fire. In a good way.
Ypioca is milder, with both the earthy and sweeter notes dialed back, plus a layer of smoke atop it. Altogether a bit more fulfilling because it’s somewhat more understated and easygoing.