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Peruvian Pisco in Spokane

Peruvian pisco, Meg McFarland, Kami Kenna, Peruvian pisco, boutique distillery peru, Piscologia

 

We would like to thank all the pisco enthusiasts in Spokane who have supported us after reading the recent article about our partners in the Spokesman Review. In her article “Spokane pair are partners in women-run, boutique Peruvian distillery PiscoLogia”,  Adriana Janovich tells the story of how Meg McFarland, Kami Kenna, and Nati Gordillo formed the partnership that now successfully operates our company, Topa Spirits, LLC. Many from the Spokane and Northern Idaho region have contacted us to find out where PiscoLogía is available. To read the article, please visit: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/jan/22/spokane-pair-are-partners-in-women-run-boutique-pe/?fbclid=IwAR3EAmbT6IPqVbX8TaF1ZcXnEosXTfOpEKjg4NPH-f89e2UxHWYhyJAICD8

 

Here are some options to buy our Peruvian pisco in the Inland Northwest:

 

Spokane area:

 

My Fresh Basket

Kendall Yards

1030 W Summit Pkwy

Spokane, WA 99201

Ph: 509-558-2100

 

Millwood Grocery and Spirits

3409 N Argonne Rd

Millwood, WA 99212

Ph: 509-926-0380

 

Bulldog Liquor & Wine

1101 N Division St

Spokane, WA 99202

Ph: 509-315-9098

 

 

Other areas in Washington State:

PiscoLogía is distributed by American Northwest Import and Distribution in Washington State. To see where to purchase our Peruvian pisco in Washington, please contact them directly: http://www.anwdistributors.com/

 

Idaho:

Liquor distribution is controlled by the State of Idaho. Please check your local liquor store to see if PiscoLogía is available. If you can’t find it on the shelves, you can request that it be special ordered. For more information, please visit:

 

Idaho State Liquor Division

 

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.

 

 

pisco grape varietals, negra criolla, moscatel, peruvian pisco, craft pisco, piscologia, types of pisco grapes, quebranta, acholado

 

 

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!”

 

peruvian pisco, crusta, pisco cocktails, holiday cocktail recipes, garnishes for cocktails, acholado, quebranta, gin cocktails

 

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

 

peruvian pisco, crusta, pisco cocktails, holiday cocktail recipes, garnishes for cocktails, acholado, quebranta, gin cocktails

 

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

hand harvest, pisco grapes, quebranta, acholado, piscologia, peruvian pisco, craft pisco, craft liquor, craft spirits

 

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

Singani and Pisco- Distillation Methods of New World Grapes

Peruvian pisco grapes, muscat, Italia grapes

 

The indigenous people of the Americas had a tradition of making alcoholic beverages long before the Spaniards brought the first grape plant across the Atlantic. They often fermented corn, strawberries or potatoes, a custom still practiced in many countries. For example, “chicha”, made from fermented corn or fruit, is highly consumed throughout the Andes in Peru today.

 

Although the first grapevines in the Americas were planted at the end of the 15th century, distillation of wine seemed to have begun about 100 years later. Since then, certain grape varieties have thrived in different locations and production methods of distilled wine have diversified.

 

We would like to highlight the characteristics of 3 spirits distilled from grapes in South America: Peruvian pisco, Chilean pisco, and Bolivian Singani. The chart below makes a brief comparison of 3 of the 8 Peruvian pisco grapes (Quebranta, Torontel and Uvina) and their Bolivian and Chilean counterpart, Muscat of Alexandria.

 

Grape Type Distilled Spirit Grape Characteristics Typical Characteristics When Distilled
Quebranta Peruvian Pisco Non-aromatic: Red/Purple color Herbal, nutty, banana, apple and mango.

 

Torontel Peruvian Pisco Aromatic: Golden yellow color Floral aromas such as lavender, tropical fruit, cinnamon, citrus.

 

Uvina Peruvian Pisco Non-aromatic: Blue/black color Olives, fresh herbs, apple, banana.

 

Muscat of Alexandria Bolivian Singani Aromatic: White/yellow/pink Pink peppercorns, citrus and white flowers.

 

Muscat of Alexandria Chilean Pisco Aromatic: White/yellow/pink Floral, with hints of jasmine and green pears.

 

 

The common ground between Peruvian pisco, Chilean pisco and Bolivian Singani is that they are all made from New World grapes, using distillation methods that were introduced at the end of the 16th century in Latin America (and as we mentioned in an earlier post, they are all are types of brandy). They all have unique qualities, depending on the terroir and the distiller who crafts them. Regardless of your preference, it is indisputable that the introduction of the grape into Latin America was a momentous game-changer. Thanks to those viticulturists in the 15th century, we now enjoy Peruvian pisco, Chilean pisco and Bolivian Singani today!

 

Vineyards in Peru? Thank the Humboldt Current!

Peruvian desert, Ica, wineries in Peru, Humboldt current, climate Peru, Peruvian pisco

Desert along the Peruvian coastline

 

Most of the world’s premium wine production takes place between the 30th and 50th parallels of the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, where temperate conditions are conducive to grape growing. In these areas, grapevines generally thrive in warm, dry locations with distinct seasonal changes. The climates found between these parallels fall into 3 categories: Mediterranean, continental, and maritime. For example, the Saale-Unstrut wine region in Germany is located at 51° N and has a continental climate, while Tuscany, at 43.77° N, has a Mediterranean climate.

 

Tropical zones are defined as the part of the Earth’s surface between the Tropic of Cancer (23.5° N) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23.4° S). Growing grapes in tropical regions can be problematic for many reasons. It is widely known that the tropics are characterized by heavy rain, humidity, and high temperatures, three conditions that promote various diseases in vines, such as mold and mildew. Moreover, while cool nights promote acidity and balance in grapes in temperate zones, in tropical regions, minimum nightly temperatures fall no lower than about 71.6 °F (22°C), making it challenging to achieve that same roundness. Finally, because of the year-round sweltering heat in the tropics, it is difficult to complete a period of dormancy during the winter. Dormancy is crucial because it allows the vine to rest and conserve energy, in preparation for the next season.

 

Azpitia is located at 12° S in the tropics, so theoretically, it should be extremely difficult to grow grapes there, or anywhere else in Peru. So how are we able to produce healthy pisco grapes in this area of the world? The answer lies in an oceanographic phenomenon called the Humboldt Current.

 

The Humboldt Current is a cold ocean current that flows north along the western coast of South America. The current extends from southern Chile to northern Peru, bringing frigid waters from the south, cooling the ocean & creating dry, chilled air, which changes the tropical climate. This is why the Peruvian coastline is so barren. Where a dense jungle would normally lie, sand dunes and cacti line the coasts of Peru, creating very favorable wine-making conditions, similar to what you might see in the high-desert vineyards of Washington State.  Days are hot and dry, but nights are relatively cool in Azpitia, creating the perfect conditions for our vines. Because of this fascinating phenomenon, we can grow grapes in optimal conditions and produce the high-quality wine that we distill to make PiscoLogía!

 

Peruvian Pisco Grapes: Acholado vs. Quebranta

quebranta grapes, acholado grapes, pisco peruano, peruvian pisco, how to make pisco, piscologia, types of pisco

 

Since PiscoLogía Pisco Quebranta hit the shelves in the USA last October, many people have asked us to explain the differences between Acholado and Quebranta. Let’s talk about what “Quebranta” means and how it compares to PiscoLogía Pisco Acholado.

 

Quebranta is a variety of grape used to make Peruvian pisco, just like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are types of wine grapes. In Peru, there are 8 grapes used in pisco production: Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Mollar, Uvina (non-aromatic) and Italia, Torontel, Moscatel, and Albilla (aromatic).

 

Acholado pisco is made from a blend of grapes or a blend of piscos. Nati, our master distiller, makes a perfect concoction of Quebranta and Italia grapes to create an Acholado that can be both mixable in cocktails or enjoyed neat.

 

Here is a chart to compare the two:

 

PiscoLogía Acholado PiscoLogía Quebranta
Aromas Pecan and orange blossom Grassy, herbal, sweet caramelized banana
Flavors Balanced, matured dried currant and bananas Toasted almonds, pecans and tart green apples
Pairing Recommendation: Semi-sweet chocolate Camembert and apples
Mix it in this cocktail: “Eggs Benedictine”

2 oz PiscoLogía Acholado

1 oz Pineapple Syrup

1 oz Lime

1/2 oz Benedictine

Egg white

Fresh grated nutmeg (garnish)

Serve on the rocks


“Grape on Grape on Grape”

2 oz PiscoLogía Quebranta

.5 oz Manzanilla Sherry

.5 oz Punte E Mes Sweet Vermouth

Serve neat