In Peru, the eight grapes used in pisco production are separated into 2 categories: aromatic and non-aromatic. While the latter categorization might imply that some piscos lack aromas, we would like to clarify that all varieties of Peruvian pisco are highly aromatic. This is due to the production methods required by the Denomination of Origin in Peru. First, Peruvian pisco is distilled one time, which helps bring out the unique aromatic profile of each grape variety. Then it is aged in neutral casks, which enhances the aromas while preserving the original identity of the clear spirit.
In this post, we will list the flavors and aromas of each grape variety used in the production of Peruvian pisco: Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Uvina & Mollar (non-aromatic) and Italia, Torontel, Moscatel, and Albilla (aromatic).
Note: These are general tasting notes, as every pisco is different, depending on the region, the terroir of the vineyards and the methods of the distiller.
Origin: The Quebranta grape is a cross between Negra Criolla and Mollar grapes. It is the most common grape used in pisco production in Peru.
Pisco aromas: Banana, hay, lucuma, passionfruit, raisins, orange peel, dried grass & chocolate
Pisco flavors: Apple, hay, vanilla, peach, citrus, syrup, pecans, almonds
Origin: Spain. AKA Listan Prieto. It’s a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and another unknown vitis vinifera.
Pisco aromas: Dried grass, apples, peaches, honey & chocolate
Pisco flavors: Spices, raisins, cocoa & caramel
Origin: Rootstock from the USA or France (possibly Summer grape or Winter grape) and another unknown vitis vinifera. It is similar to Quebranta, but Uvina is known for its green olive nuances.
Pisco aromas: Green olives, mango & banana
Pisco flavors: Green olives, berries & mango
Origin: Andalucia, Spain. AKA Mollar Cano, Mollar de Cádiz, Mollar de Granada & Mollar de Huelva. It is very similar to the Quebranta grape.
Pisco aromas: Honey, floral, apple & banana
Pisco flavors: Pear, apple, almond & banana
Origin: A cross between Muscat of Hamburg and Bican grapes. It was created in Italy in 1911 by Luigi and Alberto Pirovano.
Pisco aromas: Tropical fruit, mango, pineapple, peach, jasmine & rose petals
Pisco flavors: Lime, mandarin, flowers, orange blossom & tropical fruit
Origin: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. AKA Torrontés.
Pisco aromas: Flowers such as geranium, jasmine and magnolia, citrus, orange blossom & tropical fruit
Pisco flavors: Citrus, honey, tropical fruit & toffee
Origin: There is dispute about the origins of Peruvian Moscatel grapes. One theory is that it comes from the Muscat Rose à Petits Grains grape (Jiménez). This muscat grape is not to be confused with Italia, even though they are from the same family.
Pisco aromas: Vanilla, chestnuts, jasmine & mandarin
Pisco flavors: Peach, apple, flowers, cinnamon and spicy pepper
Origin: Spain. AKA Albillo Real
Pisco aromas: Lime, lemongrass, peach, apple, vanilla & cinnamon
Pisco flavors: Honey, peach, pineapple & apple
“Italia (Grape).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 May 2015, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italia_(grape).
Jiménez, Jorge. “Uvas Moscateles En El Pisco .” Excella by Andrea Bruno, https://www.excella-andreabruno.com/articulo.php?articulo=43.
“Noches De Cata Con Pisco ‘Cata Descriptiva’ .” El Pisco Es Del Perú, Feb. 2012, elpiscoesdelperu.com/web/boletin.php?ver=detnot&id=143&idboletin=101&idCfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Vera, Nico. “Genealogy of Pisco Grape Varietals.” Pisco Trail, 2018, www.piscotrail.com/.