After many months of preparation, we are pleased to announce that PiscoLogía has officially launched its FAME program (Female Advancement through Mentoring & Equality). By mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs, we promote economic empowerment of women and make strides to close the gender gap. Our goal is to positively impact families, communities and economies worldwide.
With more than 40 years of combined experience in the spirits industry, our team has a gamut of skills. We are specialists in marketing and brand strategy, new product planning and buildout, cost-reduction, supply chain management and beyond. If you operate a woman-owned enterprise or you are a male whose goods or services positively affect women, please click on the link to fill out the questionnaire below. We hope our free consulting services can help you grow your business.
The partners of Papalotzin will import and market 3 specialty mezcal brands crafted by small producers in Oaxaca. They will focus on sustainability, education and relationship-building throughout their supply chain. Through the FAME program, the PiscoLogía partners are assisting Papalotzin LLC with logistics, cost analysis and brand and market development. We look forward to seeing how our services will help Yesenia, Nick and the communities where the mezcal is made.
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 y Tonic
1.5 oz PiscoLogía Acholado
Top with Fever Tree Tonic
Serve over ice. Garnish with kalamata olives & lime peel
This is the 6th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
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.
This is the 5th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about 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.
This is the 4th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
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.
This is the 2nd post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
We think the best recipe for the pisco sour is: 2 oz. Peruvian pisco + 1 oz. lime juice + 1/2 oz. simple syrup
Many people claim that the traditional 3-1-1 recipe (3 oz. pisco + 1 oz. simple syrup + 1 oz. lime juice) is the best for the pisco sour. However, we believe less booze is better for the most classic Peruvian cocktail.
When consulted about the 3-1-1 recipe, our favorite award-winning bartender Kami said: “3 ounces of pisco is too much booze. I like to use only 2 ounces of pisco in my sours”. The alcohol in a cocktail serves to provide a nice buzz, but it’s most enjoyed when it pairs well with the flavors of your drink. In the case of a pisco sour, you want the pisco to be in harmony with the sweetness of the simple syrup and the acidity of the limes, not overpower them.
Kami elaborated on the subject further, saying “you also need to take in account your location and the origin of your ingredients when making cocktails. Peruvian limes are very acidic, so in Peru, I use the 2-1-1 recipe. In the USA or Canada, the regular lime isn’t as pungent, so I use 1 ounce of lime juice and 1/2 oz of simple syrup, creating a 2:1 ratio of sour to sweet”.
One must also consider the alcohol content of a cocktail to drink responsibly. A cocktail with 3 shots of liquor will put a woman of average weight at or above .08 percent of blood alcohol concentration (the legal limit to drive in Washington State and Canada). The sugar and lime will mask the high level of alcohol, so you may not realize just how much you are consuming as you enjoy the smooth, delicious cocktail. Why not enjoy your pisco sour with less booze to slow down the pace of drinking? It is safer and better for your health.
On that safety note, here is Kami’s classic pisco sour recipe, to be adjusted according to your geographical location:
2 oz PiscoLogía Pisco
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 egg white
Dry shake, shake again with ice & vigor, serve up, Angostura bitters
This is the first post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
Both Peruvian pisco & Chilean pisco are brandies made from grapes, but their flavors and aromas are not similar. This means they should be treated very differently when mixing in cocktails.
Peruvian and Chilean piscos have very distinctive aromas and flavors because their production processes are different. The single distillation method of Peruvian pisco concentrates the characteristics of each grape variety, whereas the double or triple distillation of Chilean pisco masks the original flavor and aroma of the grapes. This makes Chilean pisco a more neutral spirit that is more easily altered during the aging process.
When aged, Chilean pisco picks up butterscotch and vanilla nuances from the barrels. On the other hand, Peruvian pisco sits in neutral casks, so the grapes’ flavors and aromas maintain their original identity.
The ingredients of your cocktail should match the type of pisco and the grape variety you are working with. For example, the citrus flavors of a Quebranta pisco pair beautifully with the gingery lime tang of a chilcano. Or, the green olive hints of an Uvina pisco make the perfect match with the ingredients of a martini. You wouldn’t want hints of vanilla and butterscotch in a martini, but those flavors of Chilean pisco would work well in a Sidecar or Brandy Smash.
A conscientious bartender recognizes that Chilean pisco and Peruvian pisco should not be interchanged in cocktails. As a discerning consumer, you can challenge the notion that Peruvian and Chilean piscos are substitutable. Drinking a cocktail with ingredients that complement the flavors and aromas of the South American brandy of your choice will maximize your pisco-drinking experience.
Cada año en el mes de agosto, en una noche de luna nueva, el mismo ritual se repite, Don Lucho, el chaman del pueblo es convocado un día martes o jueves para realizar el “pagapu” o pago a la tierra.
A la media noche, Don Lucho nos acompaña a recorrer el viñedo, rezando calladamente antiguas oraciones que aprendió de sus mayores. Él quema incienso y palo santo para purificar la viña, agradeciendo a Pachamama o madre tierra por su generosidad al permitir una abundante cosecha y pidiendo para el año siguiente que los frutos de la uva se conviertan en pisco para nuestro deleite.
Al terminar la ceremonia, don Lucho pide permiso a los apus o cerros tutelares para abrir el vientre de la tierra y entregar sus ofrendas. Así, con una pequeña lampa ceremonial, en el lugar más alto de la viña, cava un agujero en la tierra y entrega respetuosamente sus presentes: hojas de coca, una botella de pisco, golosinas y tabaco para devolver a la tierra lo que ella nos entregó y que también se alimente.
Las ofrendas brindadas son cuidadosamente cubiertas con tierra y finalmente una pequeña cruz de madera adornada con flores es colocada sobre este entierro simbólico. Año tras año con amor, dedicación y respeto a la tierra, así se produce PiscoLogía.
The word “pisco” and its many variations (pisku, pisccu, phishgo, pichiu etc.) have been documented in Peru for almost 5 centuries. We have summarized the research of historians Guillermo Toro-Lira Stahl and Gonzalo Gutiérrez in this blog post, following the evolution of the word since its first inscription to its current connotation: the clear brandy we drink today.
Quechua Word For Bird
The Incas had no formal written language; instead they used knotted strings known as khipu. Consequently, the Quechua word “pisco” (bird) wasn’t recorded in Peru until the arrival of the Spaniards. Here are two of the first references to winged creatures:
«Piscos […] that is the name of birds […]». Pedro Cieza de León, Crónica General del Perú, 1550.
«There are some small birds […] they call them Pichiu […]».Garcilaso de la Vega, Comentarios Reales, chapter XX, 1609.
Quechua speakers in the Andes still describe birds using different forms of the word “pisco”. “Pichinko” (sparrow) and “piscala” (bird) are two examples. In addition to associations with avifauna, the word has acquired many other meanings over the years.
Because of the sheer quantity of birds that populated the coastal waters near Ica, people began to call the entire area “Pisco”. The earliest evidence of this is a map of Peru drafted in 1574 by geographer Diego Méndez, where the port of Pisco is clearly delineated. However, it wouldn’t be for more than 300 years later in 1900, when the province of Pisco was officially created with a capitol of the same name.
Pisko People and Clay Vessels
The people who lived in the geographical area of Pisco were also called “piskos”. They transported chicha and other alcoholic beverages in clay pots (seen below). Over time, the vessels also took the name “piscos”. To this day, some producers use these pots to age their pisco.
The Spaniards started distilling wine in Peru at the end of the 16th century/early 17th century, but the clear brandy wasn’t called “pisco” for quite some time. According to Gonzalo Gutiérrez, the oldest documentation of brandy production seems to be from 1613, in a will of a man named Pedro Manuel. Among the deceased’s possessions were several containers of aguardiente (brandy). This proves that brandy production had started in Peru. However, the first reference to “pisco” as a brandy didn’t appear until 200 years later.
Pisco As Brandy
Guillermo Toro-Lira Stahl discovered what he believes to be the first association of pisco as clear brandy. In a customs document from Lima dated in 1808, 42 containers of pisco were received from Ica. Below you can see the diminutive word, “pisquitos”. Mr. Toro-Lira Stahl believes this document marks the new nomenclature for the term we use for the clear brandy today.
From that point on in the 19th century to present day, there are thousands of references to Peruvian pisco as a brandy. Two examples are below:
Pisco […] is so good and much stronger than Cognac” Jullien Mellet, Voyages dans l ‘interieur de la Amérique Meridianale, 1808- 1820, 1824.
Pisco Punch is “compounded of the shavings of cherub’s wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters.” Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea, 1889.
The name “pisco” has had many connotations over the course of 5 centuries. Chronicling the etymological trail of the word leads us through an interesting historical journey in Peru, starting with Pre-Colombian tribes and ending with our favorite clear brandy.
Gutiérrez, Gonzalo. El Pisco, denominación de origen peruana. 19th ed., vol. 10, Agenda Internacional, 2003, pp. 245–298.
Artisanal production. Estate grown in Azpitia. Terroir driven.
Our master distiller, Nati crafts our Acholado to be both mixable in cocktails as well as enjoyed neat. It is balanced, with flavors of matured dried currant and banana and aromas of pecan and orange blossom. Akin to wine, try letting your pisco breathe before enjoying!
GRAPES USED: 95% Quebranta, 5% Italia
PROCESSING: Grapes are harvested from estate vineyards, first pressed traditionally by foot, then with an automated press without the seeds.
FERMENTATION: The freshly pressed grape juice drops directly into a cement well where the wild fermentation begins. Contact with the grape skins (approximately 24 hours) and vintage yeast strains jump-start fermentation. Once active, fermentation completes its cycle in neutral vats.
STILL TYPE: Copper Pot Still
STILL SIZE: 300 Liters; direct flame heated
DISTILLER: Nati Gordillo
DISTILLATION: Single (Peruvian Pisco must be distilled to proof)