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The Best Pisco Is Made With Intuition

Nati Gordillo, pisco distiller, peruvian pisco, women liquor industry

 

I recently sat down with Nati over a delicious meal, as one always does with Nati, to conduct an interview for this blog post. Since forming the band of women that lead our company, we 3 PiscoLogía partners have never lived in the same city. My goal was to pinpoint exactly what makes Nati so special, as understanding each other helps our partnership thrive. I quickly discovered that besides being the most talented master distiller, Nati’s profound intuition is what sets her apart from others.

Nati’s intuition is manifested in the way she connects with nature. It all started in northwestern Peru, in the city of Piura, where Nati grew up among lush agricultural fields. She used to spend hours in orchards as a child, harvesting juicy guavas and other sweet treats. In her youth, Nati formed a special bond with Pachamama (Mother Earth), a bond that nagged her after starting a family in the bustling city of Lima. She longed for her children to have the same experience.

In 1998, Nati’s yearning to connect with nature brought her to Azpitia, where she happened upon a plot of land for sale. At first glance, the sandy hills of Azpitia seemed inhospitable to plants. However, Nati recognized the unique terroir and immense potential in the barren, rolling slopes. First she would have to channel glacial meltwater from Andean Lagoons to bring life to her project. Then she would have to cleanse the soil of salt- residue from the briny Pacific Ocean mist that had accumulated for centuries.

She irrigated day and night to remove the salt and resuscitate the coastal desert. After a year, native plants began to appear, proving her land was ready for Quebranta, Italia and Torontel vines. Throughout the waiting process, Nati contemplated the circle of life that surrounded her, monitoring the moon’s phases, honoring Pachamama to bless her future crops and sowing native plants that would benefit her vines. She also studied the practices of those who came before her, adopting agricultural techniques from the Incas and viticulture concepts from the Spaniards.

Three years later, she rented a still to distill her first batch of pisco. Nati patiently supervised as the clear brandy collected in the well, drip by drip, for 33 hours. The experience gave her the confidence and determination to learn more. One course and a Sommelier degree later, and Nati was ready to buy her first 300L copper-pot still, which boldly shines in the distillery today.

Learning a trade and running a business can be tumultuous. However, one thing has always guided Nati: her intuition. It tells her how to raise her grapes, when to harvest and how to listen to nature. It gives her the insight to know when to cut the heads from the tails and how to care for the pisco after distillation. Her clairvoyance makes her treat the Earth with respect before reaping its benefits. That is why Nati’s pisco is so extraordinary. She creates delicacies with nature’s ingredients through a deliberate, respectful and loving process.

When I asked Nati what she wanted the world to know about her, she humbly answered that she believes in putting positive energy into everything she does. She stated that she likes crafting pisco because it is an act of giving to others. Her comments made me reflect on how lucky Kami and I are to work with Nati. Her quiet introspection completes the puzzle of our partnership, guiding us to make wise business decisions. I then realized that Nati isn’t the most talented master distiller AND the most intuitive; she is the most talented master distiller BECAUSE of her intuition.

Soon Nati’s daughter Beatriz will start her apprenticeship to learn how to distill pisco with her mom. Beatriz will learn well from her mom’s talent and sixth sense.  We all know that the best pisco is made with more than just skill; you need positive energy, respect for Pachamama, and most importantly, intuition.

Pisco Cocktail Recipe Postcards

If you love Kami’s pisco cocktails, now you can download our recipe postcards! Click on the links below to learn more about the diverse ways to mix PiscoLogía. In addition to classic pisco cocktails such as the capitán and chilcano, you will also find new renditions of traditionally rum-based cocktails such as the Mai Tai and Piña Colada. Finally, if you are looking for something new, we know you won’t be disappointed by the spicy Bees Knees Stings or the Flor Canela.

 

Do you need high resolution files? Please contact us at info@topaspirits.com.

 

pisco cocktail, pisco logia, acholado, quebranta, spicy cocktail

 

Bees Knees Stings

Capitan Perfecto

Dr. Hopeful

Flor Canela

Mai Nikkei Tai

Matcha Colada

Pisco & Tonic

San Martin Cocktail

Watermelon Chilcano

 

Pisco & Tonic – The Most Peruvian Cocktail

cinchona, pisco tonic, tonic, quina

Cinchona Bark

 

If you think the pisco sour is the most Peruvian cocktail, it may surprise you to hear that we think the pisco & tonic should be the flagship cocktail of Peru. Quinine, the ingredient that gives tonic water its bitter taste, comes from the bark of Peru’s national tree, the cinchona.

There are 23 species of cinchona plants, six of which only grow in the tropical areas of the Peruvian Andes. The Cinchona officinalis (quina in Spanish) is among those 6 species. Quinine from this tree is not only used to make tonic water, but it also has been historically used to treat malaria.

You can make your own tonic water by soaking cinchona bark in carbonated water. However, it’s difficult to find. Sadly, cinchona trees are in danger of extinction.

We believe the pisco tonic should be revered as the quintessential Peruvian cocktail. Tonic, made from bark from Peru’s national tree + pisco + ice =  the most Peruvian experience in a glass!

 

pisco tonic, Peruvian pisco, piscologia, pisco cocktails, acholado

Pisco y Tonic

1.5 oz PiscoLogía Acholado

Top with Fever Tree Tonic

Serve over ice. Garnish with kalamata olives & lime peel 

 

 

Sources:

Cortijo, Roberto. “Peru in Danger of Losing Its National Cinchona Tree.” Phys.org, 18 Oct. 2018, phys.org/news/2018-10-peru-danger-national-cinchona-tree.html.

 

Riepl, Martin. “Quina, El Casi Extinto Árbol Medicinal Del Escudo De Perú Que Pocos Patriotas Conocen e Inspiró El Gin Tonic .” BBC News Mundo, BBC, 28 July 2017, www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-40744976.

Create a Pisco Sour Without the Egg!

vegan pisco sour, pisco sour without egg

Credit: Blue Habu

 

The unappetizing odor, fear of food-borne illnesses and adherence to a vegan diet are reasons many avoid raw eggs in their cocktails. The traditional pisco sour recipe relies on egg whites to create its creamy foam. However, these 3 alternatives use aquafaba, Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer and organic soy milk to create a similar texture.

 

First, Tara Duggan from the San Francisco Chronicle uses aquafaba:
  • 2 oz. Pisco
  • 1 oz. aquafaba, or the drained water from a can of unsalted garbanzo beans
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or ¾ oz. simple syrup

 

Nico from Pisco Trail works with Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer in lieu of egg whites:
  • 2 oz. PiscoLogía Pisco Quebranta
  • 1 oz. Lime juice
  • 1 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1/2 Dropper Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer

 

Maurice Dudley from Blue Habu in Okinawa uses organic soy milk:
  • 2 oz. PiscoLogía Pisco Acholado
  • 1 oz. Shiquasa liquer
  • 1 oz. Gum syrup
  • 1 oz. Organic soy milk

 

*For all recipes, place all ingredients in a shaker without ice. Shake for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake again. Strain into chilled glass. When foam rises, garnish with 3 drops of bitters.

 

Pro-tip- If you’re making a maracuyá sour, passionfruit makes a natural foam. Vigorously shake 1 oz. of pure passionfruit juice with pisco and simple syrup. You will be pleasantly surprised by the natural froth that forms from the juice.

Leave us a comment if you find a favorite substitute for eggs whites for your pisco sours!

 

 

Sources:

Blue Habu Trade Group. “The 4-30”. https://web.facebook.com/bluehabutrade/. January 20, 2018.

 

Duggan, Tara. “Recipe: Aquafaba Pisco Sour Cocktail.” SFChronicle.com, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 Mar. 2016, www.sfchronicle.com/recipes/article/Recipe-Aquafaba-Pisco-Sour-Cocktail-6880706.php.

 

Vera, Nico. “Vegan Pisco Sour .” Pisco Trail, 2 Feb. 2019, www.piscotrail.com/2019/02/02/cocktails/vegan-pisco-sour/.

Matcha Colada

piscologia, craft pisco, piña colada, peruvian pisco, pisco cocktail

 

Pisco replaces rum in this Piña Colada-style concoction, showcasing the versatility of Peruvian pisco and highlighting its longstanding relationship with the pineapple.

 

The marriage of Peruvian pisco and pineapple happened thanks to Duncan Nicol, but the pineapple had gained fame in the USA long before the Pisco Punch. In the 1700’s, the tropical fruit began to symbolize opulence in the colonies- one pineapple cost the equivalent of $8,000 in today’s dollars, due to its “perishability, novelty, exoticism, and scarcity” (Raga).

When Nicol opened the Bank Exchange, the fruit was still a symbol of great wealth, but it had become less expensive due to the increased movement of goods during the Gold Rush. Ships used to stock up on prospecting supplies in Peru en route to San Francisco, among the goods were pisco and pineapples. The fruit soon became more accessible, allowing Nicol to mix pineapple syrup and pisco to woo San Francisco’s wealthiest drinkers.

Luckily pineapple is no longer for the elite, so we can use it in our favorite cocktails without breaking the bank. For this Matcha Colada, a Peruvian piña colada, we recommend PiscoLogía Acholado, our special blend of Quebranta and Italia piscos. The pineapple and coconut will pair beautifully with the tropical flavors and aromas of the Italia.

For a special treat, add matcha syrup and matcha dust, a finely ground powder of green tea leaves!

 

Matcha Colada

2 oz. Pisco Acholado

1 oz. Coconut cream

.75 oz. Pineapple juice

.75 oz. Matcha syrup

Shake and pour over pebble ice. Garnish with mint bundle and matcha dust 

 

 

Source:

Raga, Suzanne. “The Super Luxe History of Pineapples.” Mental Floss, 25 June 2015, mentalfloss.com/article/65506/super-luxe-history-pineapples-and-why-they-used-cost-8000.

When to Harvest Pisco Grapes

harvest pisco grapes, pis

Before distillation, Peruvian pisco grapes are first crushed and then fermented to make wine. It is very important to make precise decisions about when to harvest so the grapes have the right amount of sugar, acidity and tannins. Having this balance gives us high-quality wine and pisco. Nati uses both science and intuition to determine if this balance has been achieved.

First, science is used to determine the sugar and pH levels. Nati uses specific measurements to determine that the Brix levels of our Quebranta are between 24°-26° and our Italia between 22°-23°. It is important to obtain the right amount of sugar because yeasts need glucose to convert the juice into wine. Furthermore, as grapes ripen, acidity drops as sugar levels increase. However, we need to maintain certain levels of acidity so the wine is well-rounded. Nati strives for a pH of around 3.2-3.4.

Nati also checks for physiological changes in the vines. This means that the grapes, stems and seeds have the proper coloring. The fruit should be bright and robust and the stems and seeds should be brown, indicating they are ripe.

Finally, she uses intuition when tasting the fruit. The fruit must taste sweet and have good acidity and tannins. Sugar is especially key in pisco production; the more you have, the higher the alcohol content.

Determining when to harvest is an extremely important step in the pisco production process. Perfecting the balance of science and intuition gives us grapes with better flavors and aromas and thus, a well-rounded pisco.

 

 

Singani vs. Pisco

Singani and pisco are both clear grape brandies that share similar physical attributes. However, when you examine their distillation methods, geographical zones of production, resting techniques, quality classifications and other details, you will find that they are very different spirits. We have listed the differences between Bolivian Singani and Peruvian pisco in the chart below:

 

Peruvian Pisco
Singani

A brandy made from 1 or a blend of the 8 pisco grapes permitted by the D.O. in Peru.

A brandy made only from Muscat of Alexandria grapes in Bolivia.

Rests in neutral casks a minimum of 3 months.

Rests in neutral casks for a minimum of 6 months.

Must be made in one of the Pisco-producing regions as defined by the D.O. in Peru.

Must be made in one of the Singani-producing regions as defined by the D.O. in Bolivia.

Produced at 2,000m (6,562 feet) or lower from grapes grown at those elevations.

Produced at 1,600m (5,250 feet) or higher from grapes grown at those elevations.

Has both single-variety Piscos (puros) and blends (acholados).

Only single-variety Singanis are produced exclusively from the Muscat of Alexandria grape. No blending with other varieties is permitted.

Linguistic evidence suggests the word “pisco” comes from the native Quechua word “pishqu” (meaning bird).

Linguistic evidence suggests that the word “singani” comes from the native Aymara word “siwingani” (meaning sedge).

Only single distillation permitted.

Usually double distilled and watered down to proof.

No quality classification

Has quality classifications:

Singani de Altura

Singani

Singani de Primera

Singani de Segunda

Pomace may never be distilled in Pisco production.

Singani de Primera and Singani de Segunda may be made from the pomace leftovers from winemaking (similar to grappa)

*Chilcano Cocktail*

  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Lime
  • Pisco

*Shoofly Cocktail*

  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Lime
  • Singani

 

Download our Signani vs. Pisco chart here: Singani vs. Pisco

 

Sources:

Armstrong, Darren. “Singani.” StrongSomm, www.strongsomm.com/singani.

“Singani.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 July 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singani.

Chilcano-The Peruvian Moscow Mule

chilcano, pisco cocktail, peruvian pisco, piscologia

 

Unrivaled in its simplicity, the chilcano is perhaps Peru’s most iconic cocktail. The origin of this delicious mix of pisco, ginger ale and lime is a mystery. While some believe this famous cocktail has Italian roots, others dispute that notion. We may never know how the chilcano came about, but we can most definitely enjoy its effortless preparation and refreshing, delicious tang.

Here is Kami’s recipe for the chilcano, Peru’s version of the Moscow Mule, which uses ginger beer, giving it a unique spiciness for your enjoyment.

 

CHILCANO

2 oz PiscoLogía Pisco Acholado

3 Lime wedges

2 dash Angostura bitters

Ginger beer

Muddle lime wedges, build over light ice, top with ginger beer

 

 

Can you drink pisco straight?

Can you drink pisco straight? Absolutely! In fact, we encourage you to drink pisco straight to appreciate it like a fine wine. To guide you, here are 4 questions you can ask yourself when tasting:

 

pisco tasting, can you drink pisco straight, piscologia, peruvian pisco

1) What descriptors and characteristics can I identify?

There are more than 300 descriptors for wine. When you distill wine to make pisco, you concentrate those flavors and aromas even more. See if you can pick out different nuances in the pisco. For example, our Quebranta tastes like toasted almonds, pecans and tart green apples.  If you’re tasting an Acholado, distinguish the characteristics of each of the blended varieties.

2) How is the terroir of the vineyards expressed in the pisco?

We have discussed the terroir of our vineyards and how it differs from other regions and vineyards in Peru. For example, our pisco has been described as briny, which is due to salinity on the grapes from the Pacific Ocean. Our soils are sandy, which create very different conditions than vineyards in the Andes, where soils are predominantly limestone. Pisco is greatly influenced by terroir, so see if you can appreciate how the conditions of the vineyards influence the flavors and aromas of the brandy.

3) How does the pisco pair with food?

Like wine, the clear Peruvian brandy pairs beautifully with food. We have given you some pairing suggestions in this blog post: http://piscologia.com/pairing-your-favorite-peruvian-food-with-pisco/, but pisco pairings go way beyond Peruvian food. There are endless opportunities with any cuisine. For example, try an Italia pisco in a snifter with Thai curry. You can play around with different varieties and food flavors to see what you like best.

4) Are there certain aspects of this vintage that make it different than others?

Just like wine, the conditions of each harvest vary each year, making every vintage unique. For example, if a year is especially hot, the wine and pisco will have higher alcohol percentages because the grapes will have developed more sugar. Or, if rainy season arrives earlier than expected, the grapes must be harvested early to avoid diseases on the fruit such as botrytis. Sometimes this means that the grapes might not ripen enough, meaning they will have less aromas and flavors.

 

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.