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Pairing your favorite Peruvian food with PiscoLogía

Peruvian pisco is an unaged wine that is distilled one time. We believe single distillation brings out the characteristics of each grape varietal, whereas a double or triple distillation might mask important flavors and aromas.

 

Because Peruvian pisco is a derivative of wine and it is so aromatic and flavorful, it pairs especially well with food. In this post, we have chosen some of our favorite Peruvian dishes and combined them with signature PiscoLogía cocktails to create a perfect harmony of food and drink. The next time you eat Peruvian cuisine, use this as a guide to enhance your culinary experience. For details about each cocktail recipe, please visit: http://piscologia.com/drink-recipes/.

 

 

 

Picarones Doughnuts made from squash and sweet potato. Served with chancaca (molasses) syrup.

 

Pair with: PiscoLogía Quebranta in a snifter

Paring notes: In this combination, the aromas of caramelized banana of our Quebranta pisco accentuate the sweetness of the molasses syrup.

 

 

 

 

Turrón Doña Pepa This dessert consists of chancaca syrup slathered between buttery layers of anise cookies. It is topped with generous amounts of sprinkles.

 

Pair with: Clover Club Peruano

Pairing notes: The raspberry undertones of this cocktail complement the fruity chancaca syrup and the sweet, crumbly cookies.

 

 

 

 

Choros a la chalaca Mussels stuffed with spicy peppers, onions, corn and tomato.

 

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Pair with: Piña Asada Fix

Pairing notes: The combination of sweet and tart in this cocktail cut through the intense flavors of the onion and spicy pepper chalaca salsa.

 

 

 

Rocoto relleno- Spicy pepper (rocoto) stuffed with meat, potatoes and vegetables. It is topped with cheese and baked. Usually served with scalloped potatoes.

 

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Pair with: Pisco Punch

Pairing notes: This limey/pineapple punch is refreshing but hardy, matching the robust flavors of the meat and cheese in this dish.

 

 

 

Ceviche- A seafood dish typically made from fresh raw fish cured in lime juice and spiced with chili peppers, chopped onions, salt, and cilantro.

 

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Pair with: Chilcano

Pairing notes: We think Peru’s most iconic dish should accompany Peru’s most iconic cocktail. The gingery acidic flavor of this cocktail pair beautifully with this spicy citrus dish.

 

 

 

Lomo saltado- A fusion of Peruvian/Chinese food. This stir fry dish combines sirloin, spicy peppers, onions, tomatoes and soy sauce.

 

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Pair with: No Tea, No Shade

Pairing notes: The tannins from the tea and bitterness of the Aperol pair well with the sweet, spicy, savory flavors of this meaty dish.

 

 

 

Ají de gallina– A creamy, spicy chicken dish. Ají de gallina is similar to Thai curry, but the Peruvian version uses evaporated milk instead of coconut milk and ají amarillo peppers instead of curry paste.

 

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Pair with: Pisco sour

Pairing notes: Another quintessential Peruvian dish that is best paired with a truly “Peruvian” cocktail. This creamy dish needs some acidity from the lime juice to create balance, while the foamy egg-white layer matches the velvety texture of the pepper sauce.

 

 

PiscoLogía: The Craft of Batch Distillation

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Our 300L Copper Pot still

 

Fermentation is now complete, which means native yeasts have converted our sugary Quebranta and Italia grape juice to alcohol, leaving us with tanks of unaged wine. Soon Nati will start distilling this wine in our 300L copper pot still. PiscoLogía is made using batch distillation, which allows for greater flexibility and promotes Nati’s artistic expression through pisco-making.

 

There are generally two types of distillation used to create alcoholic beverages: batch and continuous. Continuous distillation is an efficient method of making large quantities of liquor with uniform flavor. On the contrary, batch distillation is more versatile. We believe it allows the consumer to appreciate the true skill of the distiller.

 

In addition, distilling in small quantities allows us to adhere to traditions that have existed for thousands of years. Archaeologists have uncovered the first artifacts associated with batch distillation believed to be dated over a span of 3,000 years from “the end of the fifth millennium BC to the end of the second millennium BC”. (Belgiorno 21). Using a method that has been perfected over the course of several millennia provides us great satisfaction. It also gives us more flexibility to create an artisan product. Every single batch of pisco that we make is unique. Continuous distillation gives you a consistent product, but consistency isn’t something we strive for when crafting our pisco. We want each and every batch to show Nati’s distilling skills, to reflect the terroir of our vineyards and the characteristics of harvest that year.

 

So, how does batch distillation work? Remember, Peruvian pisco is distilled only one time, which means Nati has only one chance to create an exceptional pisco at the desired proof . She first loads our copper pot still with wine made from our estate-grown grapes. The still is then heated until the wine boils at a temperature of 78.4 °C/173.12 °F (This is a lower boiling point than water, so the alcohol evaporates faster than water). The vapors travel up the neck at the top of our still, down the lyne arm and into the condenser, where they cool. As all experienced distillers do, Nati separates methanol and other impurities during this process by removing the initial and final condensed liquid (heads and tails). The final result is a pure, delicious Peruvian pisco.

 

 

 

Sources:

Belgiorno, Maria. “Experimental Archaeology.” BEHIND DISTILLATION EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY , edited by Antonio De Strobel, De Strobel Publisher, 2018.

 

“Pot Still.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Feb. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pot_still.

PiscoLogia from Harvest to fermentation- A photo journey

 

         Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest

Brix levels have reached 22° and our grapes have ripened to perfection, thanks to the balmy Peruvian sun. The fruit has an acidity of 3.4PH because of the cooling effect of the evening Pacific Ocean breeze. It’s time for harvest.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest

Flor and Samuel, who help care for our grapes, gather their family members in preparation for harvest. With an expected high of 28°C/82° F and humidity of 69% in Azpitia today, it will be sultry. To avoid the heat, we start picking grapes at 5:00AM, when the average temperature is 20°C/68° F.

 

 

 

 

        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

To maintain tradition, we harvest by hand. That allows us to hand-select each and every grape that goes into our pisco.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

The grapes are then destemmed

 

 

 

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and then crushed by foot, in order to extract the juice, but not crush the seeds that could add bitterness to the juice.

 

 

 

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A secondary crush then extracts the juice that remains between the flesh and the skin of the grapes.

 

 

 

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Nati throws some skins back into the juice, just to ensure Azpitia’s natural yeasts are present.

 

 

 

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In 7 to 10 days, the yeasts work their magic, the juice ferments and the wine is ready for distillation.

What it means to be 100% women-owned

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Forbes Magazine recently highlighted the role of women in the liquor industry in its “Women Running The Liquor World” series. After reading about these inspirational figures and as Women’s History Month approaches, we have been reflecting on why it matters to be a 100% female-owned company. In this post, Kami and Meg will share their thoughts on the subject.

 

We have experienced economic benefits that could be attributed to qualities of female business leaders. Studies show that companies owned by women could have 13% higher revenues because they set achievable goals, collaborate better, believe in slower, steadier growth and have excellent time management skills (Parets).

 

Our growth has increased by 194% in the past year. Although we can’t prove that upward trend was due to our female partnership, we can attest to the fact that Nati, Kami and Meg demonstrate the qualities listed above. As a team, we have set the very ambitious goal of being the most widely distributed craft Peruvian pisco in the USA and beyond. We plan to achieve this together through a series of practical, methodical steps over the next few years.

 

It has also been shown that women don’t express themselves as freely in the presence of men. In her paper, “Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers” Lesa Mitchell states: “Men, consciously or not, may act in ways that discourage women from getting involved in high-growth startups or even articulating their ideas as fully as they could” (14). We PiscoLogía partners express our ideas with each other without reproach. This unhindered exchange of ideas was especially important when we formed our new partnership and had to define who we were as a company and what our brand represented. In retrospect, we can now see that our high-quality craft pisco perfectly encapsulates the values of our 3 partners. Not only do we focus on creating the best product possible, but we also treat our workers, clients, and communities with respect and understanding.

 

On the same note, our partners are empathetic to each other. That empathy allows us to value each other’s opinions and needs. Meg McFarland observed: “Nati, Kami and I work well together because we are equally intuitive, nurturing and respectful. I am a mother, Nati is a mother and grandmother and Kami is a very special aunt. The caring relationships we have in our personal lives translate into our business. I believe this understanding has been the key to our success so far”.

 

Finally, in the spirit of collaboration, we plan to use our empathy and intuition to help other female entrepreneurs in the future. Lesa Mitchell also demonstrates that only 29 percent of privately held firms in the US are women-owned” (9) and that women owned firms tend not to grow or prosper nearly as much” (3). For that reason, we are creating a program to mentor other women-owned businesses and aspiring female entrepreneurs (stay tuned). As Kami Kenna states: “it’s important for women to run businesses so we can create a more equitable society. We hope to hone the skills of female entrepreneurs (organization, intuitiveness, personal drive, diligence, dedication, innovation, to name a few) so they can achieve the same success”.

 

The foundation of our company was built by our innately “female” traits, our open communication, empathy and skills. As we continue to learn and grow our company together, we also hope to support women entrepreneurs to create more opportunities for aspiring females around the world, closing the prevalent gender gap and making change for future generations.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Mitchell, Lisa. “Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers.” Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, September 2011, https://www.kauffman.org/~/media/kauffman_org/research%20reports%20and%20covers/2011/09/growing_the_economy_women_entrepreneurs.pdf

 

Parets, Robyn. “4 reasons why Women-Owned Businesses Succeed”, Money Under 30, 31 March 2018, https://www.moneyunder30.com/why-women-owned-businesses-succeed

The DNA of Peruvian Pisco grapes

It is widely know that the Spaniards brought the first grape to Peru on one of their voyages across the Atlantic. In this post, we would like to dig deeper into this subject, citing the research of some of the most involved pisco specialists. What exactly was the first grape varietal to be planted in Peru? What are the current variations of this original vine? According to Jorge Jiménez, in his article “Uvas Moscateles en el Pisco” on Andrea Bruno’s “Excella” website, Peru’s first grape was the Negra Criolla varietal. Negra Criolla is the Peruvian name for Listan Prieto, which has origins in Spain’s Canary Islands.

 

Jiménez further explains that the famous Peruvian Quebranta grape is a cross between this Negra Criolla and Mollar, an Andalusian grape, and that most Peruvian pisco grapes belong to the Moscatel family:

 

  • Torontel (Moscatel de Grano Menudo/Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains)
  • Italia (cross between Bicane with Moscatel de Hamburgo)
  • Negra Criolla o Rosa del Perú (cross between Moscatel de Alejandría and a vitis vinífera)
  • Quebranta (cross between Negra Criolla and Mollar)

 

To clarify the genealogy of pisco grape varietals even more, we would like to share this diagram made by our good friend Nico Vera. Nico Vera is founder of the “Pisco Trail” blog and Pisco Society. He generously allowed us to use this chart to explain the subject to our readers.

 

 

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The next time you drink Peruvian pisco, you will know the history of Uvina, Quebranta, Italia, Torontel, Albilla, Mollar, Negra Criolla and Moscatel grapes! Salud!

 

Sources:

www.piscotrail.com

https://excella-andreabruno.com/articulo.php?articulo=43

Put some piscologia in your holiday cocktail!

Wondering what cocktails to make for the holidays? Kami came up with a couple wintery recipes that will keep you cozy when it’s cold outside. Stone Pine Liqueur complements PiscoLogia pisco and lemon juice in these tasty cocktails, which are topped with sparkling wine or Amontillado Sherry.

 

Here are Kami’s creation notes: “For these dreamy holiday drams I use a Pine Liqueur as inspiration.  The Crusta is a classic New Orleans Brandy-based drink. Substitute pisco and you have an instant Peruvian cocktail. Since Pisco is unaged, it is without wood characteristics, creating its delicate, practically ethereal flavors. With that in mind, I added Amontillado Sherry to balance out the pine, the citrus and bitters to concoct this swanky seasonal sipper.

 

For the Peruvian Christmas Crusta, our Acholado lends itself as a creative replacement in gin-based cocktails. The intensity of the aromatics from the Italia grape blend with our Quebranta. The French 75, with its sparkling wine component, just calls out ‘holidays’ so I swapped the gin for our Acholado, added the Zirbenz Pine Liqueur and Yellow Chartreuse for a serious Christmas tree pop. With the honey simple syrup, bright citrus and sparkles, the PiscoLogia surprisingly prevails. This cocktail is bright, fresh and festive, like a Christmas carol in your mouth!”

 

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A Christmas Carol

1 oz PiscoLogia Acholado
2 bar spoons Yellow Chartreuse
2 bar spoons Zirbenz Pine Liqueur
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey simple syrup
Shake all ingredients and strain into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine

 

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Peruvian Christmas Crusta

2 oz PiscoLogia Quebranta
1/2 oz Zirbenz Pine Liqueur
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Lemon
2 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a generously sugar rimmed flute glass!
Garnish: sugared rim and an extravagantly long lemon twist

 

Milennials, the Craft Spirits Movement and PiscoLogia

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Several recent studies have shown that Millennials are drinking less alcohol in the USA, Australia, the U.K., and many European countries (Pattani). According to Forbes, Millennial drinkers are also paying more for higher quality “craft” beer and spirits (Nurin). We feel Millenials’ demand for specialty booze is setting a positive trend for the future, so let’s discuss what “craft” means and how it relates to PiscoLogía.

 

What is craft liquor? In our opinion, the authority on this subject is Craft Distillers. They describe the craft method as: “the creative individuality of a single human being working with small, hand-operated equipment”. They also mention that these methods are the antithesis of large-production spirits, as they reflect the authenticity, experience, personal attention, and love of one’s work. We apply all these principles when making our quebranta and acholado.

 

The craft nature of PiscoLogía starts from the moment the vines are planted and it ends when our pisco is consumed. Everything is completed by hand, including planting, pruning, harvesting, selecting, crushing, distilling, filtering, bottling and labeling. We believe the process continues when our quebranta and acholado are mixed in beautiful cocktails by an experienced bartender and enjoyed by you. Here are more details about each component:

 

 

Pruning: We prune by hand, usually in July or August (winter in Azpitia). Using manual techniques gives the plants a more gentle & meticulous treatment and avoids overcropping. Many large companies prune mechanically to save money. However, we will always prune by hand because it provides jobs for people we care about.

 

Estate-grown grapes: We personally care for our vineyards to provide maximum quality control of our grapes. Tending to our own estate-grown grapes also ensures that no excess pesticides and fungicides are used on the plants. This investment of time pays off with our high-quality pisco.

 

Harvest: Our harvests are completed strictly by hand in early March. Hand-harvesting gives us the benefit of selecting every grape that goes into our pisco. This also allows us to harvest in small batches so the grapes can reach perfect sugar levels.

 

Crushing process: Crushing our grapes lightly by foot avoids breaking the seeds, which can give the wine we distill a bitter flavor.

 

Fermentation: Nati carefully monitors the fermentation process. She prefers to allow native yeasts to kickstart fermentation. These natural ambient yeasts (also called “bloom” or “blush”) allow the terroir of Azpitia to fully express itself in our pisco.

 

Small batch: Our wine is distilled in small batches in our 300L copper pot still. This allows us to control distillation more easily and it uses less energy.

 

The rest: From hand-labeling each bottle to social media posts, every part of this cycle is carried out by our workers and partners, making PiscoLogía is the most quintessential craft spirit. We can thank Millenials for helping us recognize the value of focusing on quality, not quantity. Hopefully the push toward craft spirits will be a trend that will continue in the future.

 

 

Sources:

Aneri Pattani. New study shows millennials are drinking less, enjoying it more”, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, 7 August 2018, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2018/08/07/New-study-shows-millennials-drinking-less-pennsylvania/stories/201808060166

 

Nurin, Tara. “10 Trends That Will Determine Your Drinking In 2018”, Forbes, 31 January 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/taranurin/2018/01/31/ten-trends-that-will-determine-your-drinking-in-2018/#1b5113c42992

“La Magia” of Azpitia: Native Yeasts

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One of the many factors a master distiller has to consider when developing a product is what gives fermentation its gusto. In the case of PiscoLogía, our native yeasts at Azpitia are what create the magic.

 

Wild yeasts are all around us, even on us. A traditional foot press crushes the grapes and mixes the pulp with the yeasts on the skins, and also diversifies the yeasts’ presence as they come off of our bodies. In Tequila, maestros used to ”dance” with the agave in the fermentation tank to pull apart the plants’ fibers, while also releasing new yeast cells from their bodies. And because there are so many yeast strains that we haven’t harnessed and cultivated, let alone identified, we like to refer to fermentation as half-magic and half-science.

 

In the game of yeasts, it’s survival of the fittest. 1000 yeast strains and 1 tank of sweet grape juice: who will take home the championship? Our bodega sits among our grapevines on the upper bowl of the Mala River Valley in Azpitia. Nati has entrusted the bodega’s ambient yeast with her sweet fruit and she loves what it delivers: a uniquely Azpitian flavor profile. She knows that these native strains help give PiscoLogía the unctuous, caramel and nutty notes that backdrop the bright, creamy fruit flavors of the grapes. She feels lucky to have this yeast strain living on-site naturally.

 

Now, what happens if local yeasts don’t provide you with the profiles you look for? Or what if a competing yeast beats the one you prefer? One can consider using “commercial” yeast, one that has been well studied and that has been proven to provide predictable and consistent results. Although the word “commercial” isn’t typically used with artisanal products, sometimes a distiller can greatly benefit by using something that he or she knows will perform well. Having something that is predictable can facilitate the entire production process.

 

We feel very fortunate to have the combination of science and magic working in our favor. The tremendous native yeast strains in Azpitia have provided us with consistent results since we started distilling PiscoLogía!

 

The (not-so) New Kids on the Block: Pisco and Mezcal

There are many parallels between the histories and cultures of Peru and Mexico, the crowns of the New World. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the Incas, Aztecs and Mayas had exceptionally advanced cultures. They were sophisticated astrologers, mathematicians, engineers and culinary experts. Today, Peru and Mexico not only share the Spanish language (and have many unique indigenous languages), but they both have immense pride in their national spirits, Pisco and Mezcal.

 

Fascinated by this socio-historical connection, our partner Kami Kenna loves combining Pisco and Mezcal in creative cocktails. We have highlighted one of her masterful creations, “The Meeting of the Minds” and the methodology behind it.

 

Kami: “When I think of Mezcal, the words ‘rustic, authentic, wild, alive, proud, terroir, historic’ come to mind. I associate words such as, ‘rustic, strict tradition, elegant, expressive, proud, terroir, historic’ with Pisco. I like to consider these concepts when creating combinations with both liquors. The flavors fit into this narrative and I play with proportions of the drink until they fill their starring roles.

 

When creating a cocktail, I like to pick a theme to help narrow my thoughts. If I incorporate a second base spirit, it’s important for me to understand their flavors individually and then together. I ask myself what other flavors can I combine to add interest and to highlight them.

 

In this case, I had a French 75 on my mind, so for sparkle, I grabbed a bottle of Txakolina – a delicious Basque wine. For this cocktail, I used the ‘rosado’ version, which worked perfectly as a topper and added the effervescent texture required for a French 75 style drink. It’s no secret that pineapple, lime and pisco make a dreamy Pisco Punch. For this cocktail, I decided to use a caramelized pineapple gomme syrup with clove and cardamom to add depth to hold up to the mezcal, a sweet and creamy Espadín with hints of mesquite from the roasting process. I was ecstatic with the final result, a cocktail I named “Meeting of the Minds”. I hope you enjoy this cocktail as much as I do!

 

Meeting of the Minds 

 

PiscoLogia Acholado-1 oz 

Mezcal Tosba- 1 oz 

Caramelised Pineapple Syrup- 1 oz

Fresh lime juice-1 oz 

Txakolina Rosado -1 oz 

 

Shake all ingredients together, top with Txakolina Rosado. Serve up. ¡Salud!

 

Enjoying Peruvian Pisco in Okinawa: A Historical Perspective

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Maurice Dudley From Blue Habu

 

PiscoLogía Pisco Acholado recently reached the shores of Okinawa and into the hands of Blue Habu Trade Group. This newly founded relationship with Blue Habu is not only an important milestone for both parties; it also symbolizes a deep-rooted cultural bond between Okinawa and Peru.

 

The connection between Peru and Okinawa dates back to the early 1900’s, when vast quantities of Okinawans left their homes in search of a better life. Many settled in South America. In Peru, they formed communities in the coastal areas, where they cultivated agricultural fields to provide for their families. This influx of Okinawans enriched the Peruvian culture in innumerable ways, including the diversification of food and the creation of “Nikkei”, the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine.

 

Currently, the alliance between Okinawa and Peru remains just as strong, manifested in the exchange of goods and movement of people. Because of this historical significance, we at PiscoLogía are especially proud to be working with Blue Habu Trade Group.

 

So, if you have the pleasure of visiting Okinawa, be sure to get your hands on some PiscoLogía and reflect on this very important part of history!

 

 

Sources:

Mitchell, John. “Welcome Home, Okinawa”. Japan Times. 22 October 2016.

Hatlestad, Kari, “Peruvian Food: the Social and Cultural Origins of Peruvian Food” (2017). University Honors Theses. Paper 367.