LIMA, Peru – Nov. 16, 2019 — PiscoLogía Quebranta, a single-variety Peruvian pisco made from Quebranta grapes, won a gold medal at the the most important wine and spirits competition in the world judged by women buyers – the Women’s Wine and Spirits Awards. Held in London at the Royal Yacht Club, 100 of the world’s most influential female buyers assembled for the historic occasion. Top retailers, importers, and hospitality entities were present for the blind tastings, including Waitrose & Partners, Bibendum, Enotria & Co, 67 Pall Mall, and The Arts Club.
The award reflects the quality and craftsmanship of the pisco, which is made in Azpitia, in the Denomination of Origin of Lima. “We are honored to receive this gold medal and celebrate the work completed with my partners Nati Gordillo and Kami Kenna. It is a culmination of years of dedication to the art of pisco making” said Meg McFarland, founder of PiscoLogía.
Made from 100% estate-grown grapes, PiscoLogía Quebranta is the quintessential craft pisco. Its aromas are grassy, herbal, and reminiscent of sweet caramelized banana. It tastes of toasted almonds, pecans and tart green apples.
About Topa Spirits, LLC
Topa Spirits, LLC is a 100% women-owned producer, importer and wholesaler of Piscología Pisco Quebranta and PiscoLogía Pisco Acholado.
Connect with PiscoLogía on Facebook, Twitter and www.piscologia.com for cocktail ideas, contests and breaking product news.
We are happy to announce that PiscoLogía Acholado and PiscoLogía Quebranta are now available for purchase through the LCBO in Canada! This was made possible thanks to a collaboration with the Unknown Agency, experts in growing new breakthrough beverage brands. Based in Toronto, the partners at the Unknown Agency establish routes to market, build volume and grow brand equity through sales, distribution, marketing and PR solutions.
Have you already purchased a bottle of PiscoLogía in Canada? Learn how to mix our Acholado or Quebranta in these cocktail recipes. For more information about availability in Canada, please contact the Unknown Agency:
Ambos singani y pisco son aguardientes transparentes hechos por un proceso de destilación de uvas. Por sus características físicas, parecen semejantes. Sin embargo, cuando examinas sus métodos de destilación, sus zonas de producción, sus procesos de reposo, clasificaciones de calidad u otros detalles, encontrarás que son licores muy distintos. Aquí hay las diferencias entre el Singani boliviano y el pisco peruano:
Un aguardiente hecho de 1 o una mezcla de las 8 variedades de uva permitidas por la Denominación de Origen en Perú.
Un aguardiente hecho de la uva moscatel de Alejandría en Bolivia.
Reposa un mínimo de 3 meses en recipientes que no alteran el producto.
Reposa un mínimo de 6 meses en recipientes que no alteran el producto.
Se tiene que producir en una de las zonas geográficas designadas por la Denominación de Origen en Perú.
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:
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 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)
¿Qué tiene el pisco? La respuesta es: uvas. El pisco peruano es un destilado de uvas pisqueras, que son 8 vitis viníferas permitidas por la Denominación de Origen en Perú para la producción del aguardiente. Esas uvas son:
Para hacer un pisco peruano, el jugo de las uvas se fermenta para hacer un vino. Luego ese vino se destila una vez, por lo general en un alambique de cobre, en el proceso que se explica aquí. La destilación nos da un licor transparente y concentrado, con un porcentaje de alcohol entre 38%-48%.
No se le añade nada al pisco peruano, ni siquiera agua. Eso lo hace muy diferente a otros licores como el pisco chileno o el whiskey, que se destilan más de una vez y luego se les pone agua para bajar el alcohol al porcentaje deseado y los añejan en barrica.
This is the 7th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian 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.
Monoterpenes create special aromas, so 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. However, you shouldn’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.
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.
This is the 3rd post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
There are also Muscat-derived grapes in the non-aromatic category.
Before discussing this subject, let’s do a quick refresher on Peruvian pisco grapes. There are 8 grapes used for pisco production in Peru and they are divided into 2 categories: aromatic and non-aromatic. You can see the 4 grape varieties that fall into each category in the chart above.
There is a misconception circulating in the industry that the term “aromatic” applies exclusively to grapes with DNA from the Muscat family. While the four aromatics, Moscatel, Albilla, Italia and Torontel, are indeed derived from the Muscat grape, there are also two non-aromatic grapes with Muscat DNA: Negra criolla and Quebranta. Both of these red grape varieties come from Muscat of Alexandria (Moscatel de Alejandria in Spanish).
The DNA of all the Peruvian pisco grape varieties is best explained in the chart created by Nico from Pisco Trail:
Now if you hear the rumor that aromatic pisco grapes are the only grapes with DNA from the Muscat family, you can disprove it. Muscat of Alexandria gave life to the aromatic Italia variety, but it also deserves credit for giving us lovely non-aromatic Quebranta and Negra Criolla!
The influx of Japanese immigrants to Peru at the end of the 19th century greatly enhanced Peruvian cuisine through the development of Nikkei, the fusion of Peruvian and Japanese food. New ingredients such as ginger, soy, wasabi and raw fish and seafood slowly assimilated into Peruvian cuisine, eventually creating delectable dishes such as tiradito, pulpo al olivo and acevichado sushi.
In her Mai Nikkei Tai, Kami twisted the traditional Mai Tai recipe to nod to this culinary movement. A touch of ginger and sesame represent the Nikkei and Quebranta pisco replaces rum, embodying a delicious blend of Japanese and Peruvian flavors. The result is a truly Peruvian cocktail.
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 vineyards are located on the northern precipice of the lush Mala River Valley, a short distance from where the Mala River meets the Pacific Ocean. This proximity to the sea means the grapes are nourished year-round by a certain level of salinity, adding to their complexity. Our Pisco Quebranta has aromas of grass, herbs, and sweet caramelized banana with hints of toasted almonds, pecans and tart green apples.
GRAPE USED: 100% estate-grown Quebranta
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)