Piscologia • Blog • Everything You Need to Know About Pisco
From Peruvian vs. Chilean pisco, distillation and aging processes, cocktail recipes, pisco grapes, and the Denomination of Origin of pisco, our blog covers everything you need to know.
Piscologia, acholado, quebranta, pisco grapes, pisco, pisco cocktails, Peruvian pisco, what is pisco, pisco brandy, pisco sour, best pisco, craft pisco
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¿Cómo se hace el pisco peruano? El proceso de Destilación

En esta entrada de blog, explicaremos la segunda parte del proceso de producción de pisco: la destilación.

 

La destilación es un proceso que separa los componentes de un líquido a través de la condensación. Para destilar PiscoLogía, Nati usa un alambique de cobre de 300 litros. Como se ve en la foto abajo, tiene forma de caldera con una olla donde se pone el líquido a destilar. En el caso del pisco peruano, la destilación convierte el vino al aguardiente transparente.

 

como se hace el pisco peruano, alambique, pisco peruano, piscologia

 

El alambique se calienta por debajo con unos calentadores de gas, que nos ayuda a controlar la temperatura de la destilación. Cuando hierve, el líquido empieza a evaporarse. Los vapores suben por la serpentina del alambique, donde se enfrían y se condensan, regresando a su estado líquido.

Durante el proceso de destilación, la gran mayoría de líquido se desaparece, logrando concentrar el alcohol. Siempre hay que botar las impurezas al principio y al final del proceso para que quede el alcohol de más calidad. Como se sabe, el pisco peruano se destila sólo una vez, así que Nati tiene una sola oportunidad de hacer una destilación perfecta.

 

¿Cómo se hace el pisco peruano?

En esta entrada de blog, explicaremos la primera parte del proceso de producción de pisco: la cosecha y la fermentación.

 

 

         Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest

Buscamos alcanzar una madurez fisiológica completa en las uvas para decidir la fecha de cosecha. Cuando los niveles de Brix llegan a 23° y la fruta tiene un acidez de 3.4PH (gracias a la brisa del Océano Pacífico), nuestras uvas están listas para cosechar, sujeta a que los otros factores estén maduros también (hollejos, semillas y raspones).

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest

Flor y Samuel, quienes nos ayudan a cuidar las uvas, juntan a los miembros de su familia en preparación para la cosecha. Con un pronóstico del tiempo de 28°C y una humedad de 69%, va a ser un día caluroso y bochornoso. Para evitar el calor, empezamos a cosechar a las 5:00 de la mañana.

 

 

 

 

        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

Para mantener la tradición, cosechamos a mano. Eso nos permite seleccionar cada uva que entra en nuestro pisco.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

Se despalillan las uvas

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

y estrujamos el jugo con los pies para extraer el jugo sin romper las semillas que pueden dar un sabor amargo a nuestro jugo.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

Después realizamos un prensado suave para separar el mosto de las partes sólidas

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia, fermentation

Nati le pone un porcentaje menor de cáscaras al jugo, para asegurar que las levaduras nativas de Azpitia estén presentes. Para lograr una fermentación optima utilizamos las levaduras nativas proveniente de nuestras uvas.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia, fermentation

En 7-10 días, el jugo se fermenta y el vino está listo para la destilación, que explicaremos en la siguiente entrada de blog.

 

Craft Pisco, The Consumer and The Community

“Craft” is a term that is over-used and unregulated, making it difficult to differentiate between what is truly craft and what isn’t. We believe PiscoLogía is the quintessential craft pisco because every part of our process is completed through handmade, artisanal practices.  To us, our craft methods are important not only because they build the foundation for a premium pisco, but because they provide benefits for those who help make PiscoLogía.

 

craft pisco, piscologia, peruvian pisco pisco

Our Craft Practices Provide Economic Benefits for the Community

Using human hands to complete every part of our production process means more economic benefits to the community in Azpitia. We do everything by hand, from planting to pruning, to harvesting, crushing and bottling. The more people we require, the more families we provide for.

We also believe the lack of intervention from machines guarantees a higher quality product. For example, hand harvesting allows us to select every grape that goes into our pisco. It also allows us to harvest in small batches so the grapes reach optimal sugar levels to facilitate fermentation with native yeasts.

 

Positive Environmental Impact

Craft methods applied in the vineyards benefit the environment. We don’t use industrial viticulture methods, fertilizers or excess chemicals, allowing us to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our oceans and rivers. Instead of machines or pumps, we save energy through a system of gravity-flow surface irrigation to collect runoff from the Andes to sparingly irrigate our vines.

 

Non-Intervention Winemaking

To make a good pisco, you must first start with a good wine.  We never use commercial yeasts or enzymes in our winemaking process. Instead, natural ambient yeasts ferment our grape juice. We feel that non-intervention methods provide us with a wine that fully expresses the terroir of our vineyards, something you can taste in every bottle of pisco.

 

Small Batch

Small batch means that Nati can demonstrate her skill and love of pisco-making with every distillation. Using a 300L copper pot still allows her to control distillation more easily and conserve energy. Every batch is unique and reflects the hard work of everyone who helped make it, the characteristics of the harvest and the artistic skill of Nati.

How Strong is Pisco?

how strong is pisco, pisco alcohol content, piscologia, peruvian pisco

Nati Contemplating Measurements During Distillation

 

According to the Denomination of Origin in Peru, Peruvian pisco must have an alcohol content between 38% and 48%. This makes pisco a hard liquor, like vodka, whiskey, rum and scotch (Types of Alcohol, 2019). Using science and intuition, Nati distills to keep measurements of our pisco at or near 42%. We think her formula maximizes the balance of flavors, aromas and alcohol content of PiscoLogía.

Peruvian pisco is distilled to proof, giving the distiller only one chance to reach the desired alcohol content. Unlike Chilean pisco, which may be distilled more than once and then watered down, nothing may be added to Peruvian pisco. This is one of many reasons why it is an especially unique spirit.

 

 

Source:

 

“What Types of Alcohol Are Considered Hard Liquor?” Alcohol.org, 3 July 2019, www.alcohol.org/statistics-information/hard-liquor/.

What does pisco taste like?

pisco taste, what does pisco taste like, quebranta

What does pisco taste like? 

 

Pisco tastes like grapes because it’s a grape brandy (grape juice ferments to make wine, then the wine is distilled to make pisco). There are more than 15 pounds of grapes in every bottle of regular pisco and 33 pounds in a bottle of mosto verde. Naturally, the dominant flavor will be that of the vitis vinifera used to make the pisco.  Also, because it rests in neutral vessels after distillation, nothing alters the original flavor of Peruvian pisco, so you can appreciate the concentrated flavors of the fruit in the bottle.

 

How do the 8 grape varieties of pisco differ in terms of flavor?

 

Besides flavors and aromas of grapes, you should also note other nuances that are typical to each variety. For example, a Quebranta may taste like pecans, peach or apple (see the example flavor chart above), Albilla might taste like pineapple and Negra Criolla could have notes of raisins and caramel. For more detailed information about the unique flavors and aromas of each variety, check out this blog post:  http://piscologia.com/all-the-peruvian-pisco-grapes/

 

What’s an example pairing with pisco?

 

Try a Quebranta pisco with suspiro a la limeña, a famous Peruvian dessert. In this combination, the sweetness and creaminess of the suspiro are balanced out with the alcohol from the pisco. It’s a perfect fusion between the sugar in the dessert and the fruitiness of the pisco. If you can’t get your hands on suspiro a la limeña, try a Quebranta with key lime pie. You won’t be disappointed!

Myth #8- Pisco is like grappa

This is the 8th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.

pomace brandy, pisco vs. grappa, peruvian pisco, piscologia

 

Both pisco and grappa are grape distillates. However, besides sharing the same base ingredient of vitis vitifera, these spirits have very little in common.

 

The grapes used to make grappa and pisco pass through very different processes before turning into brandy. Berries in grappa production are crushed and used to make wine.  After winemaking, the leftover skins, seeds and stalks are repurposed, turning the pomace into grappa via bain-marie or steam distillation. The Italian clear spirit can be aged in barrels or it can be bottled right away.  

Peruvian pisco, on the other hand, is made from grapes that are grown and selected solely for pisco production. After crushing, the juice is collected and then fermented before distillation. Unlike the grapes used for grappa, the stems, seeds and skins of Peruvian pisco grapes are discarded. After distillation, it must rest a minimum of 3 months, but never in barrels, ensuring that pisco is always a clear spirit.

There are many other differences between the two grape-based spirits. We have summarized them in this pisco vs. grappa chart:

 

Peruvian Pisco
Grappa

A brandy made from the fruit juice only. Skins, pips and stalks are discarded before distillation.

 

A pomace brandy. The fermented skins, seeds and stalks leftover from winemaking are distilled.  

 

Must rest in neutral casks a minimum of 3 months.

 

Can be bottled after distillation or aged in barrels.  

 

To be called pisco, it must be made in one of the 5 pisco-producing regions in Peru, from grapes grown in those regions.

 

 

To be called grappa in the European Union, it must be made from pomace from Italian grapes and distilled in Italy, the Italian part of Switzerland or San Marino.  

 

No water is needed to aid with fermentation, but no water is allowed in Peruvian pisco post-distillation.

 

Fermentation and distillation must occur on the pomace—no added water allowed.  

 

 

Usually copper pot, direct flame heated. Sometimes a falca still is used.

 

Uses bain-marie or steam distillation so pomace doesn’t burn.  

 

Made from any of the 8 varieties permitted by the D.O. in Peru.

 

Made from any grape variety used in wine-making.  

 

Has both single variety piscos (puros) and blends (acholados).

 

Has both single variety grappas and blends (polivitigni).  

 

No age classification

 

 

Has age classification:

Affinata- less than 12 months in barrels

Invecchiata/Vecchia- 12-18 months

Stravecchia/Riserva-more than 18 months.

 

No flavoring or infusions allowed during production.

 

Allows for flavoring (infusion post-distillation).

 

Distilled to proof.

 

Watered down after distillation to reach desired proof.  

 

 

Want to take this chart to go? Download the differences between pisco and grappa here: Pisco vs. Grappa

 

 

Source:  

 

“Poli Grappa Museum.” Poli Grappa Museum – Grappa and Brandies Tales, www.grappa.com/eng/index.php.

Myth #7- Italia pisco is too aromatic to mix in cocktails

This is the 7th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.

monoterpenes, aromatic wine, aromatic pisco

 

 

We couldn’t disagree more that Italia is too aromatic for cocktails. In fact, we think it is one of the more exciting grapes to use.  While Italia can be quite floral, it can brighten up an Acholado by creating an interesting blend with the two (or more) grape varieties.

 

Let’s first talk about what aromatic means. If a wine or pisco is aromatic, it means it has higher levels of terpenes, which are the same scents found in flowers (Puckette). More specifically, if you can sense aromas of rose, lilac, lavender, orange blossom or geranium in a wine or pisco, it means it has monoterpenes, which are compounds found in the essential oils extracted from many plants, including fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs (Loza-Tavera). The Italia variety is classified in the aromatic category, along with Riesling, Albariño, Pinot Gris, the 3 other aromatic Peruvian pisco grapes and many others.  

 

Taking into consideration that monoterpenes give it special aromas, how should you use Italia pisco in a cocktail? One suggestion would be to try it in a pisco colada because the Italia variety pairs well with the sweet flavors of coconut. Or, you can highlight the orange blossom notes in a citrus-based cocktail. If you’re drinking it on its own, an Italia pisco will enhance the flavors of a Thai curry or Tandoori Chicken.  

 

Whether or not you like Italia pisco in cocktails will come down to your personal preferences, but don’t take someone else’s word for it that it is too fruity or floral. We encourage you to try it with different ingredients to see which combination is best for you.   

 

 

Sources:  

 

Loza-Tavera, H. “Monoterpenes in Essential Oils. Biosynthesis and Properties.” Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1999, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10335385.  

 

Puckette, Madeline. “What Are Aromatic White Wines?” Wine Folly, 27 Mar. 2019, winefolly.com/review/what-are-aromatic-white-wines/.

Myth #6- It doesn’t matter what grape variety of Peruvian pisco you use in cocktails

This is the 6th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.

 

pisco types, peruvian pisco, piscologia

 

 

It does matter what variety of pisco you put in your cocktail. Every pisco type displays unique flavors and aromas that should pair with what you’re mixing.

 

Once again, we will turn to Kami to bust this myth about Peruvian pisco. She confirmed that each variety of pisco is unique, stating: “There are 8 grape varieties that can be used to make pisco, not to mention an infinite amount of Acholados, which are blends, that can take on any number of characteristics when combined. Blends aside, each of the 8 varieties offer us different flavor profiles”.

 

Kami continued to give us specifics about how different types of grapes are expressed in cocktails. “Uvina, for an example, is not a pisco I want to put into a pisco sour. It is one of the rare non-aromatics. It has vegetable, olive-like flavors – it’s really interesting. A cocktail made with Quebranta or Negra Criolla, two of the non-aromatics, are going to drastically change the profile of a cocktail originally crafted with the very-aromatic Italia. Aside from producers and brands of pisco, it is important to craft a drink around the explosive flavors of each grape variety. It’d be like pairing a sweet rose wine with a steak – no gracias”.

 

This confirms what we have said before- the type of pisco you put into your cocktail should be carefully chosen to match the ingredients. In doing so, you will create a harmony of flavors and appreciate the full potential of the clear Peruvian brandy.  

Myth #5- The best pisco comes from Ica

This is the 5th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.

 

terroir peru, caraveli, pisco, piscologia, peruvian pisco

 

It is not true that the best pisco comes from Ica. The other 4 regions all produce equally impressive, high-quality brandies.

 

 

We have heard the misconception that the best pisco comes from Ica, the largest Denomination of Origin in Peru.  Many good piscos are produced in Ica, but we would like to tout the caliber of brandies from the other 4 regions: Lima, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna.  

Pisco is a distilled wine. Just like wine, many factors will determine a pisco’s quality, including the viticulture practices used to raise the grapes, the skill of the producer and the terroir of the vineyard.

Peru’s unique terrain lends itself to diverse terroirs. For example, the highest vineyards with pisco grapes are found in the Caravelí Valley at 1,779 meters in the D.O. of Arequipa. Vineyards at this altitude in the Andes are endowed with limestone soils and cool nights, very different conditions than the coast, where nights are warmer, soils are sandy and ocean salinity affects the grapes. When you add in more variables like distillation techniques, one can see how Peruvian pisco displays such a broad gamut of aromas and flavors. 

We would encourage people to train their palates to discover how different terroirs shine through in Peruvian pisco. Instead of associating quality with entire regions, we want to change the conversation and start evaluating how viticulture practices, the distiller’s techniques and terroir express themselves in the bottle. In the end, the consumer gets to decide which pisco is the best for him or her.

 

Myth#4- Quebranta is the best pisco for a pisco sour

This is the 4th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.

 

pisco sour, pisco cocktail, peruvian pisco, piscologia

 

We think Acholado is the best pisco for a pisco sour.

 

Contrary to the belief in Peru that pisco sours should be made with Quebranta pisco, we prefer a sour made with pisco Acholado. It’s even better when the Acholado is blended with an aromatic grape like Italia. The floral, fruity notes of the aromatic variety pair well with the citrus in the cocktail.  

In a recent blog post we discussed the benefits of highlighting the characteristics of each pisco type when mixing cocktails. To do this, Kami envisions the 8 pisco varieties on a spectrum, drawing a parallel between their flavors and their sense of warmth. To her, the more aromatic the pisco, the cooler it is: “I love an Acholado or one of the aromatics for a pisco sour. I tend to think of Quebranta as warm, while Italia and Torontel are cool. I like my cool/floral/bright piscos with citrus and the “warm” Quebranta on its own or mixed into a Capitán or another booze-forward classic like a Negroni”.

With this advice from Kami, we encourage you to experiment by making pisco sours with different types of pisco. We are confident that you will agree- the floral, fruity notes of an Acholado work best with the sweetness and acidity of Peru’s most iconic cocktail.