Sunday, March 13, 2011

cachaça de coco

Back in September, I wrote about starting a project based off of a recipe in Charles H. Baker, Jr.'s The South American Gentleman's Companion. The Coquiña or Cachaça de Coco was a recipe Baker discovered in Brazil for the aging of sugar cane spirits inside coconuts for 6-12 months. On the original post, Tony Harion commented that this practice still occurs in Brazil and that they usually age their spirits for a lot shorter periods of time there. For the project, I purchased three coconuts and filled two with Seleta Cachaça and one with J. Wray & Nephew Rum. The holes that I made with a half inch drill bit were plugged with wooden pegs whittled to size. Baker recommended burying the coconuts, but I left them in the corner of the kitchen counter instead.

Baker gave only a small hint of what to expect. Just that it would add a ruddy amber color and a "most unusual and pleasant taste" and that the spirit should be drank neat from a small glass. My patience ended after 5 1/2 months when I decided to open up my coconuts last weekend.
The Seleta Cachaça (glass on the right) was the clear winner of the two. This spirit smelled like roasted coconut, had a dry coconut water-like sip and a coconut flesh-like swallow. The J. Wray & Nephew (glass on the left) still retained a good amount of its rough character so it was a little less enjoyable to sip neat. Indeed, the rum contained a hint of fusel oils and a less roasted coconut aroma than the cachaça had. Moreover, it was a bit rougher on the sip and contained more funk on the swallow, but it had many of the flavor characteristics that the cachaça gained. While the cachaça was fine to sip neat, perhaps the J. Wray would have been better mixed.

Overall, the spirits were much smoother due to the aging. However, there was a lot less burn as either the alcohol evaporated faster than the water or the coconut really took the edge off. While the latter was very possible, the former was more likely. The Angel's Share from this experiment was pretty grand and I was afraid in a few more months that the coconuts would be bone dry. Perhaps Baker's advice to bury the coconuts was sound. At first, I figured that burying them would make them out of sight, out of mind so that they had a chance to age without being drained prematurely. In retrospect, damp soil would make for better cellaring conditions than indoors during a long, dry winter. The Two Sheets in the Wind blog was influenced by my initial post and embarked on their own aging experiments. They intelligently wrapped their coconuts in Saran wrap to prevent the spirits from evaporating as well as their corks from drying out. No word yet on their experiment since their entry made it sound like they were shooting for a year's worth of aging.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am overdue to write a blog on my results, as I opened up my coconut at the end of month 3. I had been checking in on it every month or so and the shocking loss of liquid from month 2 to 3 made me end the process early.
I do have to say though - the shredded up coconut meat made some deliciously boozy macaroons!