Understanding Peruvian Pisco Labels
If you have ever felt overwhelmed by the jargon on a Peruvian pisco label, you have come to the right place. In this blog post, we want to help you understand the vocabulary used to differentiate between types of pisco, pisco grapes and production zones in Peru. Hopefully you can use this as a guide the next time you browse the brandy section of the liquor store.
The Denomination of Origin in Peru requires that pisco labels must list 3 key elements: the type of pisco, the grape varietal(s), and where the pisco was produced. We will show you examples, but first we want to detail these 3 parts.
1) Type- There are 3 types of pisco:
Pisco puro– A single varietal pisco made from wine from one type of grape.
Pisco acholado– Made from more than one varietal. It can be a blend of grapes or a blend of piscos.
Pisco mosto verde– Pisco made from musts that aren’t fully fermented and sugar is still present in the juice. Mosto verde piscos tend to be more expensive because they use more grapes.
2) Varietal(s)- There are 8 grapes allowed in Peruvian pisco production:
Four aromatic grape varietals: Albilla, Italia, Moscatel & Torontel
Four non-aromatic grape varietals: Mollar, Negra Criolla, Quebranta & Uvina
Some producers may denote whether the grape used is aromatic or non-aromatic on their labels, although it isn’t required.
3) Production Location– There are 5 pisco-producing regions in Peru:
They are: Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna (only in the valleys of Locumba, Sama and Caplina). Some labels might have more specific information about the D.O., for example the name of the valley or town where it is produced. You will see this is the case with our labels below.
Now, let’s see how these terms are used on our acholado label:
- This corresponds to the type(s) of grape used to make the pisco. Remember, “acholado” is a blend of grapes.
- This tells where the pisco is made. In our case, we produce in the Denomination of Origin of Lima, but more specifically, in the town of Azpitia.
- It is common to specify what grapes are used to make an acholado. To make our PiscoLogía acholado, we use a blend of Quebranta and Italia piscos.
How to read a single varietal pisco (pisco puro) label:
- Again, this tells us the type(s) of grape used to make the pisco. In the case, the “quebranta” grape is used. Pisco puro means “pure”, or only one pisco grape varietal. Many producers will provide more information about that single varietal. For example, the back of our label states: “A single variety pisco distilled from quebranta, a low aromatic red wine”.
We hope we have demystified some of the difficult vocabulary used to label Peruvian pisco bottles. Knowing these terms will give you the knowledge you need to make smart purchase the next time you are looking for PiscoLogía or another high-quality Peruvian pisco. The next step is mixing your cocktails. Don’t miss the recipe page on our website: http://piscologia.com/drink-recipes/. ¡Salud!