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SB meets… Raul de Faria, Cachaça Magnífica

The rules surrounding cachaça have been updated, but what does this mean for the category? We speak to the CEO of Magnífica to learn more.

Raul de Faria, CEO of Cachaça Magnífica

What are the key products in your portfolio? 

Magnífica is a premium cachaça that has been produced in a craft distillery in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro since 1985. It is a single-estate product, as we control production from the sugarcane, coming from our own plantation, to the ageing and bottling. We have a full range of products, from a white unaged variant called Cristal, to our exceptional Reserva Soleira.

How long have you been CEO of Cachaça Magnífica? 

I started in 2015, when my father Joāo Luiz (the founder) stepped down. Previously, I was a consultant in the oil industry. I had a well-paid job in a multinational so it was a bit crazy to make this career move.

However, the appeal of working on the family business on such a fun product was difficult to resist. What convinced me was also the opportunity to work with Francesco Taddonio, who had an enormous experience of the industry (ex-Pernod Ricard executive), and guided me to adjust the company strategy and offering.

Can you tell us about the updated rules regarding the cachaça de alambique category

Cachaça was originally produced in pot stills, and as for most other categories, distillation moved to column stills during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today 70% of the production is made in industrial column plants, but many craft pot still distilleries remain, scattered around Brazil.

After intense lobbying for many years, we and other producers managed to obtain the official recognition of this new category of pot still cachaça. It is a cachaça that has been 100% distilled in copper pot stills, similarly to single malt Scotch or Cognac. This brings huge benefits, as it finally allows us to present cachaça to the world in a premium way. Of course, not all cachaça de alambique is necessarily better than column still cachaça – this will depend on individual palates and producer skills. However, it is important to let the consumer know why a product tastes different and is more expensive.

What do you find most exciting about the cachaça category?

Cachaça is a universe by itself. Most people do not realise the size, the variety and the quality of the thousands of products available in Brazil. Like baijiu, sake or mezcal, this is a category with a long tradition and immense knowhow that somehow remained trapped in its country of origin, mostly for geopolitical reasons. Now we are excited to let the world know about this Brazilian gem.

You recently launched in Portugal. Why is this a key market? 

The Portuguese discovered Brazil in 1500, and decided to colonise it to produce sugar (and cachaça). For centuries there has been a strong link between the two countries and especially with the former capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, where the King of Portugal moved in 1808. So, the Portuguese know cachaça, but unfortunately mostly through the cheap alternatives. We and our distributor, Viriathus Drinks, believe that the market is ready to welcome the premium cachaça from Rio de Janeiro.

Do you plan to launch in any new markets this year? 

Yes, we are launching in Switzerland through Best Taste, and in Greece via PT Beverages. And we also want to find a good partner to bring Magnífica to the US.

How do you feel about winning two Master medals in The Rum & Cachaça Masters 2024?

We are obviously delighted and honoured that the judges awarded such high marks to both our products that entered the competition (Bica de Alambique – 48% proof unaged – and Reserva Soleira).

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No