Novo Fogo Tanager Cachaça

Novo Fogo Tanager Blk-RG2

Product of:  Brazil
Aged: 2-3 years
Price: $35
Alcohol: 42% ABV 
Sugar: 0-5 g/L 
(estimate)
Context:  Aged Cachaça 
RG Rating:  9.5

Tasting Notes
Novo Fogo’s Tanager expressions makes an enticing entrance as aromas of earthy sugarcane spirit and waxy hardwood waft from the bottle, are repeated to full measure in a tasting glass.  Further sniffing reveals the scent of oak cask aging and sugarcane grassiness: Tanager is fully transparent about the stages of its development.  Lesser notes of sweet tobacco nutmeg and kale round out the profile.

Even Tanager’s color reflects its maturation; appearing reddish brown in the bottle, same in the glass.  It is also heavily occluded with flocculants, I suspect due to a lack of filtering after the Tanager cachaça is emptied from the arariba casks.  Swirling introduces an attractive variety of legs.

The initial taste is immediately dry, slightly thinner than expected, slightly waxy and woody as a result of its double-wood aging, with more fresh oak flavor than oaken vanilla.  In complexity, Tanager offers a welcome step up from Novo Fogo’s oak-only Barrel Aged expression.  It finishes off-dry, with hints of wood, and lingers on the tongue for a prolonged period.

Anecdotes
Tanager is Novo Fogo’s first double-barrel cachaça, meaning it was aged first in oak before maturing in casks made of arariba, a South American hardwood also known as zebrawood.  The time in arariba casks is said to impart the distinctive red color this bright spirit shows in bottle and glass. Notice the red tree on the bottle’s logo. 

Arariba vs American White Oak
Arariba wood has a density of 0.86 (10
3 kg/m3), significantly more dense than American white oak (Quercus alba)  of 0.77 (103 kg/m3).  Thus, one might expect a slower rate of interaction between the spirit in casks made of arariba wood than were are accustomed to experiencing with the nearly ubiquitous ex-Bourbon casks made of American white oak.  Each of these woods impart different aromas and flavors to the spirits aged in casks made of them.  

Opinion
Novo Fogo Tanager’s double-wood aging is no gimmick, as both cask types express themselves proudly in the finished product.  Tanager is one of the very, very few exported cachaças that strives to be a true cachaça and deliver a unique Brazilian character.  In this case, that means aging in arariba wood casks.  Tanager succeeds at being one of the most interesting aged cachaças available in the USA, enjoyable to  for its Gemini-like woody characteristics, and yet it’s complexity supports a variety of sophisticated cocktails.

Reviewed: Batch No. L15335MT during November 2016 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017