El Pisco

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Our Pisco

Pisco is a genuinely Peruvian drink, result of the adaptation of the stump brought by the Spaniards to those conquered lands, this on top of the knowledge in the cultivation gave to the recently developed liquor very Peculiar characteristics.

Pisscu means seagull in Quechua, the Inca language. It was also the name of a fertile valley often visited by condors and settled by descendants of the ancient Paracas culture. Here the local potters, also called piscos, crafted the large clay jars used to ferment chicha and other alcoholic beverages. When the Spanish Conquerors arrived in the sixteenth century, they found this part of the south coast featured the ideal conditions to plant Mediterranean grape varieties, and were able to plant them here thanks to the skill and knowledge of the ancient Peruvians who invented a system of irrigating the arid coastal desert.

When the Spaniards started distilling, they baptized the grape brandy "pisco", as well as the port from where it was shipped, as can be seen from maps dating back to the late sixteenth century. Pisco exports reached their height between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Pisco varieties are defined by flavor and not their aroma. There are four types, according to the ingredient used for their preparation: pisco puro (made from non-aromatic grapes); pisco aromático (aromatic); pisco acholado (distilled from several different grape varieties); and pisco mosto verde (distilled from grape must that has yet to fullyferment).

Peruvian writings dating back to the nineteenth century state that drinkers who ordered pisco would "tomar las once", in a reference to the 11 letters used to spell the word aguardiente. Peruvian writer Ricardo Palma (1833-1919) writing in his Tradiciones described pisco as "alborotador quitapesares..." (a rousing pick-me-up).

Pisco is a grape brandy or aguardiente, distilled from fresh grape must in stills that do not rectify the final product. Thus the pisco obtained from the distilling process features is transparent or slightly yellowish, with an alcohol content that runs at around 42° (very different from the Chilean aguardiente that contains around 90° and requires the mixing with water to be drinkable).

The juice and the pulp of the grapes are fermented for about two weeks with natural yeast. For Peruvian pisco, the must ferments in clay containers known as “pisqueras.” The wine, once it reaches 12 to 14 percent alcohol, is filtered before entering the still.

Distillation takes place in small pot-stills (about 400-gallon capacity) with a slow process in order to preserve the aromatic elements of the wine.

Peruvian pisco is distilled to about 40 percent alcohol and bottled without any addition of water. Peruvian pisco is much richer in congeners (elements responsible for flavor) .


At 9:33 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Very nice post on the subject. May I quote a bit of it?

At 7:23 PM, Blogger CUETO said...

pisco is chileno no question about it history and the tradition asi lo accreditation

At 10:55 PM, Blogger Sol said...

Pisco is chileno?? Ay por dios..! Pisco queda en Peru...

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am excited to see Pisco Punch all over the place. We would love to hear about your diverse recipes for Pisco. My associates and me are in the Pisco business. Our pisco is called Inca Gold Pisco and it is interesting and exciting how colossal Pisco is becoming. If you want more information on Pisco Punch, Guillermo Tora-Lira will be coming to Atlanta for a book signing. Details will be posted on www.IncaSpirits.com. For more information, please contact me at info@incaspirits.com.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Pisco said...

Great article

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Senter said...

Jose and other Pisco fans, you should check out discoverpisco.com they have a lot of recipes and a good history of this great Peruvian spirit.

Here is a Pisco Punch Recipe, I prefer to serve it in a high ball glass.

“Sierpe Sunset”: 2 oz. Gran Sierpe Pisco, 3 basil leaves, 3/4 oz. lemon, 3/4 oz. simple syrup, splash with Mango puree.

Here is another great spicy pisco recipe, make sure the Jalapeno paste is hot! “Snake Eyes” : 2 oz. Gran Sierpe Pisco, 1/2 oz. passionfruit puree, 1/2 oz. Mango Puree, 1/2 oz. lime juice, dash of Jalapeno paste, fresh basil garnish.

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Livio Pastorino said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Livio Pastorino said...

Hi, there are some errors that I would like to correct.
-Types of Pisco are 3 not 4
1.-Pure Pisco (Puro), produced only from one of the 8 varieties of Pisco grapes, No Aromatic: quebranta, mollar, negra criolla (black creole), uvina, Aromatic: italy, torontel, muscat, albilla
2.-Acholado (Blended), obtained from the mixture of:
-Aromatic Pisco grapes and / or non-aromatic.
-Aromatic Pisco grape musts (juice grape) and / or non-aromatic.
-Fresh musts (juice grape) completely fermented (wine fresh) aromatic Pisco grape and / or non-aromatic.
-The pisco of Pisco grapes from aromatic and / or non-aromatic.
3.-Mosto Verde (Green Must Pisco), produced from the distillation of fresh musts (juice grape) with interrupted fermentation, in order to distill the must which still has traces of sweetness. (This must is "green". if the fermentation process had allowed to conclude, the distilled product would have been made of "madure" must).
-Pisco is colorless, clear, clean & bright.
-Developing the standard technique allows Pisco from 38 to 48 degrees of alcohol.
You can read more in http://elpiscoesdelperu.com/web/index.php?ver_opt=det_noticia&id=244
Livio Pastorino


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