The growing demand for high quality products and the immense export potential that cachaça represents, demonstrated especially during the past few years, have clearly indicated the necessity of establishing well-defined standards of quality, as well as effective means of controlling the process of production of this beverage. The objective of this study was the selection of S. cerevisiae yeast strains and the investigation of their influence on the kinetic parameters of fermentation. Ninety strains of S. cerevisiae isolated from distilleries of the state of Minas Gerais were evaluated with respect to the following parameters: flocculation capacity, production of H2S and kinetic parameters of fermentation. The UFMGA 905 strain was used as a reference because it presented desirable characteristics for the production of cachaça. Five strains presented high specific sedimentation velocities (SSV), indicating a high flocculation capacity, and two did not produce H2S. The strains presented significant statistical differences for fermentation parameters: yield of ethanol; efficiency of substrate conversion to ethanol; ratio of substrate conversion to ethanol (Yp/s), to cells (Yx/s), to organic acids (Yac/s), and to glycerol (Yg/s); and productivity. In general, the strains presented a good fermentative potential, with ethanol yields varying from 74.7 to 82.1% and an efficiency of 76.1–84.4%. All strains presented high productivities (4.6–6.6 g l−1 h−1), indicating that this parameter can be used in the selection of strains for the production of cachaça.