Mythbusters: How Low Will you Go? It Depends on Your Cultural Perspective

Pisco, the beloved distilled spirit from Peru, has been the subject of many myths and misconceptions. One of the most common myths is that pisco is made at low altitudes, with grapes grown in low coastal valleys. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, for most of us, pisco from Peru is actually a high-altitude spirit.

To shed some light on this topic, we’ve included it in our mythbuster series. But before we dive into the details, it’s important to note that the concept of altitude can vary wildly between individuals, and how you view it will most likely depend on your cultural perspective.

In Peru, the production of pisco is regulated by the Denomination of Origin (D.O.). According to the D.O., pisco must be produced at 6,562 feet or lower from grapes grown at those elevations.

It’s worth noting, however, that the concept of altitude is quite different in the Andean region. While Peruvians consider 6,562 feet to be fairly low, in the U.S., that is a relatively high elevation. For example, Denver, known as the “Mile High City”, has an elevation of 5,280 feet!

To put things into perspective, there are Peruvian piscos made at altitudes higher than Denver in the D.O. of Arequipa in the Caraveli Valley, which is located at 5,837 feet. This means that even though Peruvians consider 6,562 feet to be low, the vast majority of Peruvian pisco is produced at elevations that are considered high by many other standards.

The altitude at which pisco is produced is actually an important factor in its unique flavor profile. The grapes used to make pisco in Peru are grown in the high-altitude regions of the Andes mountains, which gives them a distinctive flavor that is different from grapes grown at lower elevations. Additionally, the lower boiling point at high altitude can help to preserve the delicate flavors and aromas of the grapes during the distillation process, resulting in a spirit that is particularly flavorful and aromatic.

In conclusion, the myth that Peruvian pisco is made at low altitudes is just that – a myth. The reality is that many Peruvian piscos are produced at high altitudes, which is actually an important factor in creating unique flavor profiles. By understanding the impact that altitude can have on the distillation process, we can gain a better appreciation for the unique qualities of pisco and other distilled spirits that are produced in different regions around the world.

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