Good article here from the American Society in Sao Paolo, about the different woods used to age cachaca:
Prime cachaças age in wood barrels made from over 26 different native Brazilian trees, giving them different body and characteristics. As even the most seasoned people around the world are only used to oak barrel-aged spirits, the discovery of these unexpected notes can intrigue even the most experienced connoisseur.
It’s really interesting to see the reactions of people to Abelha Gold, which is aged for 3 years in garapeira – a type of native Brazilian Ash. Abelha Gold doesn’t have the familiar vanilla or toffee notes that oak imparts to spirits, which can throw people sometimes.
In fact, garapeira is valued by cachaca producers in Brasil as a wood which doesn’t change the base flavour of the cachaca – you still get that sugar cane palette, but another layer of sweetness and spice appears.
Here’s an example of 2 more Brasilian woods and popular brands. Seleta is being imported to the UK now, not sure where exactly you can get it though.
Brands Seleta and Boazinha come from the very same distillation process, separated when first out of the alambique. Seleta is then aged in umburana while Boazinha is aged in balsam. The end result is two brands with completely different personalities. I prefer the umburana-aged Seleta as it has both softness and a strong body to it. Boazinha, to me, has too much of an aftertaste that makes me want to have a glass of cold beer in between sips.
UK available cachacas and the woods used for aging:
Leblon – Rested for a few months in XO Cognac casks
Cabana – Rested for a few months in Jequitiba Rosa
Boca Loca – Rested for a few months in large Jequitiba barrels
Abelha Gold -Aged for 3 years in 250 litre garapeira barrels
Moleca Gold -Aged for 3 years in oak barrels
Sagatiba Velha – Aged for 2 years in unknown wood