Aging Peruvian Pisco

In past posts we have discussed various steps of PiscoLogía’s production process, including harvest, fermentation and distillation. So, what else must happen before our pisco is bottled and exported? Like most spirits, pisco must rest before bottling. In fact, the regulations of the Denomination of Origin require that Peruvian pisco sit for at least 3 months in neutral casks so as to not alter its physical, chemical or organoleptic characteristics. This allows the flavors and aromas of pisco to evolve, improving the overall quality of the final product (Consejo).

 

At PiscoLogía, we prefer a maturation period of at least 6 months. If we are lucky, our pisco will sit for a couple of years before we bottle. We believe the longer it sits, the more time the flavors and aromas have to meld. Our master distiller and partner Nati explains the reasoning behind this long maturation period: “pisco aromas are extremely volatile. During the sitting stage, these aromas stabilize and blend with the liquid. The Peruvian Pisco Standard requires a resting period of at least three months, but we have our pisco sit at least 6 months to ensure the best quality product”.

 

When discussing volatility in the context of pisco production, it means that the desired aromas easily evaporate at normal temperatures. That means if a pisco isn’t properly cared for, it will lose all its aromatic qualities. A recently distilled Peruvian pisco should rest in sealed neutral casks in order to prevent evaporation and to allow the aromas to blend with the liquid.

 

In addition to melding aromas, the resting period enhances the flavor of pisco while fading out unwanted nuances caused by impurities. Because of its effect on the flavor and aroma, the resting phase of the production process is crucial in creating a balanced, high-quality craft pisco.

 

Sources:

 

Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Pisco. “Reglamento De La Denominación De Origen Pisco.” www.indecopi.gob.pe/documents/20195/200722/6+Reglamento_DO-PISCO.pdf/a2259836-69e6-4c8c-b403-f8c3c38f7039.

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 23° 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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

Nati gordillo, women owned companies, women liquor companies, craft pisco, piscologia, peruvian pisco, women entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, forbes women running the liquor world

 

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 wanted to reflect on why it matters to be a 100% female-owned company.

Economic Benefits

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.

Expression of Ideas

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.

Empathy

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”.

Giving Back-PiscoLogía’s FAME Mentoring Program

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 have created a program to mentor other women-owned businesses and aspiring female entrepreneurs. 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

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

 

Update: Click on the link for e-commerce options to buy PiscoLogía and have it delivered to your door!

 

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 Muscat 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

 

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:

 

Jiménez, Jorge. “Uvas Moscateles En El Pisco .” Excella by Andrea Bruno, https://www.excella-andreabruno.com/articulo.php?articulo=43.

 

Vera, Nico. “Genealogy of Pisco Grape Varietals.” Pisco Trail, 2018, www.piscotrail.com/.

 

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!

humboldt current, peruvian pisco, winery peru

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!

 

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!

 

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