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Pisco: Peru´s Miracle Drink

Home / Travel Blog / Pisco: Peru´s Miracle Drink

Hailed as the miracle of the desert, pisco is Peru´s national drink. Writer Ricardo Palma dubbed it as his "rousing pick-me-up". When Peruvian wine exports were banned by Spain, wine-makers here began to increase production of grape brandy, shipping it from the port of Pisco. Exports reached their height in the 17th-18th centuries. Pisco in Quechua means bird and a valley. The potters who made the large conical vessels, in which the liquor was, and sometimes still is, stored, were also called piscos.  

 

Pisco is considered a symbol of Peruvian resilence. Despite the Spanish embargo, the Chilean army´s systematic destruction of cellars during the War of the Pacific, and failed agrarian reforms in the 1970s which saw some vines cut up for firewood, pisco peruvian has survived. As the Peruvians say, "Pisco is from Peru".  

 

How Pisco Peruvian is made

Pisco, a clear grape brandy or aguardiente, is distilled from fresh grape must in stills. The final product should be transparent without any kind of additives. It takes almost 13 lb (6 kg) of grapes to make one bottle of pisco peruvian.  

 

Grapes were brought from the Canary Islands to Peru´s arid south coast. Aided by the knowledge of ancient people who had worked out bow to irrigate the desert, locals started making pisco.  

 

Pisco can only be made with 8 specific types of grapes, which are classified as follows:  

 

a) Aromatic: 4 types of grapes, mainly related to the Moscatel variety. 

These are: Italy, Torontel, Albilla and Moscatel. (Muscat Rosso) 

b) Not Aromatic: 4 types of black grapes that are derived from the Mission of Spain grapes. 

These are: Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Corriente and Uvina. 

 

Therefore, pisco can only be made from a variety of 8 grapes, but it is also possible to find an infinity of commercially named "Acholado" blends.  

 

All these grapes must be grown in 5 specific departments of Peru: Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna. In addition, the distilleries have to be located within the same region and each company must have its respective certificate of registration of origin. 

 

The fermentation begins at the moment when the grapes are squeezed and the juice is extracted. There are two ways to achieve fermentation: 

 

a) Ambient temperature: simply let the juice follow its natural course at room temperature; 

b) Refrigeration: in stainless steel tanks and a cooling system that allows to control the temperature and the speed of fermentation.  

 

By law, in either case, the fermentation must be natural, in other words the aerial transmission of yeast is the only element to trigger the process. Neither water nor any other ingredient is allowed during fermentation.

 

Distillation takes place in steel or copper stills. Then pisco is aged in clay barrels or other neutral containers for three months. No distilled water is added to alter its consistency.

 

Bottling is done with the same level of alcohol as when it was produced, officially 38 - 48 percent. The flavor comes from the fruit itself; there is no aging in oak barrels. Pisco was recognized to be of Peruvian origins in 2005 by the World Intellectual Property Organization after a prolonged dispute with Chile. 

 

How to drink Pisco Peruvian

Pisco can be chilled and sipped straight. However, most Peruvians prefer it in the form of the pisco sour. All you need is three parts pisco mixed with lemon juice, sugar syrup, egg white, ice cubes, and some Angostura bitters are to be added right at the end. Peruvians are very serious about their national drink and the national Pisco Day is celebrated on February 8, every year. 


Barsol Pisco

In 2002, the founders of BarSol Pisco, Carlos Ferreyros (a Peruvian agricultural entrepreneur) and Diego Loret de Mola (an American entrepreneur), embarked on a long journey to relaunch pisco in the world, taking their first steps in the United States. Both got the San Isidro Winery, one of the oldest distilleries in the Ica Valley, to distil and bottle the finest pisco produced in the valley. The name BarSol was conceived to celebrate his intentions to take to each BAR of the world the last pisco elaborated under the SUN of Ica. 

 

BarSol Pisco is produced with fresh and fermented wines from special grapes from Valle del Ica, Peru. Specially designed by its founders, BarSol is made using the classic still distillation that has been practiced in Peru since the 16th century. Produced with the same grapes that grow in the vineyards of the Ica Valley and also packed by hand in small batches, BarSol Pisco is distilled with supreme purity, without adding water or other ingredients to the grape must that is fermented in a perfect wine before be distilled In this way, it is an exceptional liquor of exquisite purity, clarity and smoothness. Highly rewarded for its superior flavor, BarSol is the perfect reward for any occasion.

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