Madeira sugar cane and aguardente

Madeira sugar cane and aguardente

Madeira sugar cane

You probably already know that Madeira is famous for typical and regional products. Some examples are bananas, embroidery and Madeira wine. However, you maybe did not know that Madeira sugar cane (also known as Madeira’s white gold) is also very relevant to Madeira’s history. The sugar industry was an important contributor of Madeira’s economical life. Madeiran sugar was omnipresent in European markets during the 15th and 16th century. Hence this allowed the island to collect enough funds for the building of churches and palaces. One still can visit these churches and Quintas today. However, Brazil and Spanish colonies in South America slowly took over sugar exportation.

Sugar Mills

At the time, the sugar canes had to be manually pressed in sugar-mills. Simililarly to the Porto da Cruz Sugar Cane Mill, the Calheta Sugar Cane Mill, one of the four sugar cane mills on the island, is now a museum which lets visitors discover the sugar cane culture. When walking around the museum, you will be able to learn more about the factory’s history and discover artefacts from the 19th and 20th century.

Apart from Calheta, sugar cane mills are also in Funchal (Fábrica de Mel de Cana Ribeiro Seco) and in Porto da Cruz (the Cane Mill Company of the North).


After all, it should not come as a surprise that sugar cane is the key ingredient to the island’s iconic aguardente (sugar cane rum). Sugarcane juice ferments to obtain this alcoholic beverage. Aguardente is a core ingredient of poncha. You should definitely try poncha if you haven’t yet! 

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