Leblon

$$ — 40% ABV — 6 Months

Named after the affluent beach neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Leblon's towering and intensely green bottle is as hard to miss as a Brazilian Day parade. It's become a staple at not just Brazilian restaurants but also taquerias and tapas bars, often served in large caipirinhas as fluorescent as the branding.

The ingredients are Brazilian but the process is recognizably French: distilled once in a copper pot, Leblon is rested for as much as half a year in XO Cognac barrels. What color these old barrels might give is filtered out, leaving the spirit nearly as transparent as when it first ran off the still, but the wood is crucial in unearthing Leblon's fruity and herbaceous notes.

The fine thing about Leblon, compared to other cachaças, is that intensely sweet, dew-like smell that's signature to the category has been reigned in. A lot. This lifts the veil, allowing for a better appreciation of all the supporting flavors in Brazilian rum: vanilla, citrus, sage and even something floral. Orchids or elder? Adding a dash of St. Germain will help you suss it out for yourself.

Maison Leblon is located in Patos de Minas, Minas Gerais in Southeastern Brazil. Established by Steve Luttmann, it remains an independent distiller.