CACHAÇA, THE FIRST OF SUGAR CANE DISTILLATES
The history of cachaça is totally intertwined with the history of Brazil. Only 70 years after its discovery, the first sugar mills were built in Brazil and this started the « Sugar cane cycle », the first of the three golden ages of the country. Sugar was « white gold » for the Portuguese tradesmen who exported it. With sugar came also cachaça, a distillate that progressively gained in quality and replaced the « aguardente do reino » (kingdom’s brandy), produced from grape marc. Cachaça was appreciated both by the colons for its medicinal virtues and by the African slaves as a means of communication with their Gods. Therefore, its production rapidly expanded throughout Brazil, reaching Rio de Janeiro, and surpassing even sugar itself in production during the XVIII century.
THE TRADITION OF CACHAÇA
IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Rio de Janeiro was the capital city of the Brazilian colony from 1763, of the Portuguese empire between 1808 and 1822 and of the Brazilian independent nation until 1960, thus concentrating the demand for what was best in the country. The Rio de Janeiro state became a major producer of high quality cachaça, both in the mountains of the Coffee Valley and in Parati, the export harbour during colonial times. This tradition still echoes today.
Rum was “invented” 150 years after cachaça. Despite being made from the same raw material, sugar cane, cachaça is different from rum: cachaça is made with the fresh juice extracted from the canes, while rum is made by distilling molasses, a by- product of sugar production. The distillation process of molasses was discovered only at the end of the 17th century by Dutch engineers.
Magnífica de Faria
THE FIRST STEPS OF MAGNÍFICA
In 1985 I engaged in the adventure of bringing this great tradition back to life, producing a premium cachaça in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, near the town of Vassouras, the old capital of the Coffee Valley.
Being convinced of the immense potential of cachaça, I worked, together with other producers and industry bodies, for the recognition, image, and definition of cachaça; we developed the “Brazilian cachaça plan – PBDAC” in 1997 which later became the Cachaça Brazilian Institute (IBRAC). In the same year, the Agriculture Ministry created the Industrial Chamber of the Cachaça Value Chain, of which I was honoured to be appointed its first President.
When we decided to find a name for the brand, my wife was the Rector (Chancellor) of a University of Rio. In Brazil, these officials are referred to as “Magnifico/a” Rector/a. That is how I thought of this name, in honour of my beloved wife.
An important moment in our history was when in 2003 we started a partnership with a then very small British restaurant chain called “Las Iguanas”. The Magnifica Las Iguanas caipirinhas have created a real culture and passion for this drink throughout the UK!
After this success, we have started selling in other European countries and now we sell more outside of Brazil than in our home country!
A MAGNÍFICA TODAY
Today I am proud of the recognition that Magnifica is getting, of the several prizes we were awarded and in particular of Magnifica Reserva Soleira being ranked 2nd of more than 1000 brands from all over Brazil, in the very challenging “Cupula da Cachaça” ranking in 2014 and 2018.
In 2020 I was privileged to become the main theme of the samba song “A Magnífica cachaça do João” (The magnificent cachaça of João) created by the street carnival group Bloco do Badalo, from our Santa Teresa neighborhood. The love and affection of this people is priceless!
My sons Raul and Ana Luiza are now continuing the work I started, still thriving to produce one the best sugar cane distillates in the world, while preserving the pristine nature of our estate and ensuring that our workers live a decent life. I am confident that my cachaça will bring for years to come moments of pleasure and conviviality to consumers in Brazil and around the world.
João Luiz de Faria
Cau, João Luiz, Ana Luiza and Raul de Faria