What Is Leblon Cachaça?

Production, Taste, and Recipes

Leblon Cachaca with Caipirinha Cocktail

Photo from Leblon Cachaca

Leblon Cachaça is a brand of cachaça and a good introduction to the world of Brazilian cachaça. Very similar to rum, it is distilled from sugar cane. Leblon is affordable for the average drinker, was one of the first brands to hit the broader U.S. market, and remains readily available. It's fantastic in the famous caipirinha and a nice addition to a variety of tasty cocktail recipes.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: sugar cane
  • Proof: 80
  • ABV: 40%
  • Calories in a 1 1/2-ounce shot: 103
  • Origin: Patos de Minas, Brazil
  • Taste: Fruity, semi-sweet
  • Aged: 30 days to 3 months
  • Serve: straight, cocktails

What Is Leblon Cachaça Made From?

Lebon was initially released in 2005, though cachaça has long been a prized possession of Brazil. Unlike its counterparts in the rum world, cachaça is produced by fermenting the juice extracted from sugar cane rather than molasses, which is a byproduct of sugar production. This "fresher" spirit has a distinct flavor that varies from medicinal or chemical in the lower-quality brands to fruits, spices, and grasses in the more refined offerings. Leblon Cachaça falls in the middle.

It is produced at the Maison Leblon distillery in Patos de Minas, located in the western highlands of Minas Gerais. The state in the southeastern portion of Brazil is known for its mineral mining and agricultural lands that generate high-quality coffee and sugar cane.

To make Leblon, the single estate sugar cane is harvested by hand using machetes then gently pressed to extract only the best juice (or caldo de cana in Portuguese). The fermentation and distillation process uses a specific set of temperatures, times, and yeast that set the stage for a well-balanced spirit.

The fermented juice is distilled in alambique copper pot stills, and, the distillate is aged in used French cognac casks between 30 days and six months. This light aging adds smoothness without giving it too much oaky flavor like older cachaças, which are preferred for sipping. The entire process behind Leblon is designed to give it a notable "fruit-forward" tone that is light and pure, making it an excellent choice for cocktails. After cutting it with water, the cachaça is bottled at 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 80 proof).

Leblon is owned by the liquor industry giant Bacardi Limited, which imports well-known brands like Bombay Sapphire Gin, Patrón Tequila, Bénédictine, Martini & Rossi, and St. Germain, among many others.

What Does Leblon Cachaça Taste Like?

Leblon holds a tequila-like nose with transparent fruity and herbal notes, as well as undertones of vanilla. The full-bodied palate is smooth with complex layers of citrus, vanilla, pepper, and a very subtle oak. For such a lively spirit, the warm, velvety finish is a lasting surprise.

How to Drink Leblon Cachaça

While you can drink any cachaça (including Leblon) straight, the one drink that every bottle of cachaça deserves is the caipirinha. As the national drink of Brazil, it is made with fresh lime and sugar to create a cocktail that displays the country's spirit in a relatively pure form. It is always the test of a good cachaça, and a caipirinha made with the Leblon is nearly ideal.

Leblon Cachaça mixes well with a variety of fruits and can handle some light spice flavors. Beyond lime, berries, coconut, grape, lemon, passion fruit, pear, and the spiced tastes of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are particularly well suited to cachaça. For an interesting twist, you can also sweeten Leblon cocktails with the almond flavor of orgeat syrup. As you explore cachaça's mixability, try it as a Brazilian twist to popular cocktails by simply substituting Leblon for the base spirit: the tequila in a margarita or the vodka of a cosmopolitan, for instance 

Cocktail Recipes

Leblon is a good choice for any cachaça cocktail, and it's an excellent alternative in rum recipes, including daiquiris and mojitos.

Where to Buy Leblon Cachaça

Leblon is one of the most accessible brands of cachaça. Its distribution in the U.S. is fairly vast and you'll find bottles on the shelves of liquor stores that stock a good variety of distilled spirits. Look for it amongst bottles of rum, as cachaça is often classified within that category. If it's legal to do so where you live, Leblon Cachaça can also be shipped from online liquor shops.