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Is pisco expensive? Ask the grapes!

pisco grapes, acholado, quebranta, pisco, peruvian pisco, piscologia, best pisco, uvas pisqueras

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

What makes a bottle of liquor expensive? Where does Peruvian pisco fall on the pricing scale of spirits? Let’s discuss why Peruvian pisco is a premium spirit and how its price reflects the quality and care of what goes into every bottle.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

The price of a bottle of liquor is influenced by its distillation methods, aging times, quality of ingredients, the labor involved in the production process and other factors. The higher the quality of ingredients or the more labor involved in making it, the more expensive it will be. For example, a meticulous distiller could use 17 pounds of potatoes to make one bottle of premium vodka. A cheaper brand might use significantly less potatoes, potatoes of lower quality or sloppy distillation methods. In other words, many factors influence price, but as a general rule, the more invested by the producers when crafting the product, the more it will cost at the liquor store.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Now, why is Peruvian pisco on the higher end of the scale in terms of price? The answer comes down to grapes; there are a lot of grapes in one bottle of pisco. On average, there are approximately 7.5 kilos (about 16.5 pounds) of grapes per bottle of pisco puro or pisco acholado. To make a mosto verde, you need an average about 15 kilos (33 pounds), double the amount of a regular bottle of pisco.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

To explain this further, we made the chart below. You can see how Peruvian pisco compares to wine with regard to grapes per bottle. These are averages, as cluster size, grape size and grapevine yield vary widely between vineyards.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Per bottle of:
Weight of grapes Clusters Grapes # of grapevines
Wine 1.5 kilos / 3.3 lbs 10 700 1
Acholado o puro 7.5 kilos / 16.5 lbs 50 3,500 almost 4
Mosto verde 15 kilos / 33 lbs 100 7,000 7.5

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

As evident in the chart, a bottle of regular pisco has more than 3,500 grapes in it, while a mosto verde requires roughly double that amount. That’s 7,000 grapes in one bottle of liquor!

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

In Azpitia, we get an average of 2 kilos of grapes per plant. This means that one bottle of pisco puro or pisco acholado uses the fruit from almost 4 entire grape vines. Mosto verde pisco uses all the fruit from 7.5 grape vines.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

In addition to the sheer amount of fruit that goes into one bottle, one should also consider what’s required to produce healthy plants. Viticulture is arduous work. Grape vines must be carefully tended to for an entire year before the fruit can be picked. When you add in factors like hand-harvesting & hand-pruning, growing grapes can be even more expensive and time consuming.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

We hope the next you sip a PiscoLogía cocktail, you will have a deeper understanding of what goes into every bottle. Besides thousands of grapes, there are many factors that make Peruvian pisco premium. The taste and quality of our final product reflect its price, a quintessential high-end spirit.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

To make these estimations, we consulted the following source:

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Gerling, Chris. “Conversion Factors: From Vineyard to Bottle.” Conversion Factors: From Vineyard to Bottle | Viticulture and Enology, 8 Dec. 2011, grapesandwine.cals.cornell.edu/newsletters/appellation-cornell/2011-newsletters/issue-8/conversion-factors-vineyard-bottle/.

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. 

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:

 

acholado, how to read a pisco label, pisco, peruvian pisco, best pisco                      acholado, how to read a pisco label, piscologia, peruvian pisco, pisco, best pisco

  1. This corresponds to the type(s) of grape used to make the pisco. Remember, “acholado” is a blend of grapes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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: 

quebranta, how to read a pisco label, piscologia, peruvian pisco, pisco

 

  1. 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!