Myth #11- Quebranta is the strongest and most flavorful of all pisco grapes

This is the 11th in a series mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco!

quebranta, pisco, pisco grapes, quebranta most flavorful

 

Quebranta is indeed a very flavorful variety, but so are the other 7 Peruvian pisco grapes.

 

Let’s first address the idea that the Quebranta grape is the strongest of all the Peruvian pisco grapes. This statement brings up a lot of questions, such as: What does “strength” refer to? Does it refer to the strength of the flavor of the Quebranta grape? Or perhaps it refers to the robustness of the Quebranta plant? Or maybe this is a misconception of the alcoholic strength of the final product?

The Quebranta plant is Peru’s only indigenous vitis vinifera variety and it has indeed adapted very well to the climate and soils in Peru. However, from a standpoint of durability or longevity, the Negra Criolla (Listán Prieto) variety was the first to be planted in Peru sometime between 1539 and 1541. Therefore, because Negra Criolla has been around for longer in Peru, it would technically win the contest of longevity.

Furthermore, potency of the alcohols in a pisco depend not on the grape type, but on the sugar levels of the grapes used in fermentation. We all know that a pisco can have a maximum ABV of 48%. You can have pisco at 48% ABV made from any of the 8 grapes allowed in the production of Peruvian pisco, not just Quebranta. To reach the desired sugar levels, and therefore the desired alcohol levels of the final product, vintners will aim to reach around 23-26 Brix before harvesting. This measurement is taken with a refractometer. Then finally, proper distillation methods also help regulate the alcohol content.

Second, it is difficult to defend or refute the notion that Quebranta is the most flavorful grape because the concept of taste is very subjective. What may seem flavorful to one person could be bland to another. It would require years of qualitative research and surveying to determine which grape is the most flavorful.

Making scientific measurements of flavor requires the implementation of complicated processes. Techniques such as solvent extraction and headspace methods would be required to identify and qualify methoxypyrazines and non-volatile, glycosylated conjugates of volatile molecules in grapes, among many other elements. Then to analyze, one would need to conduct gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Furthermore, soil, climate and traditions also greatly impact flavor expression, regardless of the grape variety. All of those factors would need to be studied and compared before making a general statement about the flavor of Quebranta grapes.

Put simply, the most flavorful pisco grapes are the ones that have been tended to carefully throughout the year and the whole production process. Those grapes are most flavorful when they are recently harvested and have the desired Brix levels. Needless to say, it is a very weak argument to say that the Quebranta grape is the strongest and most flavorful grape without any data or research to back it up. In our opinion, all the Peruvian pisco grapes are strong, flavorful and so unique that they should each be appreciated as such.

 

Sources:

Williams, P. J., and M. S. Allen. “The Analysis of Flavouring Compounds in Grapes.” SpringerLink, Springer-Verlag, Berlin,    Heidelberg, 1 Jan. 1996, link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-79660-9_3.

Myth #10- Singani= High-Altitude Brandy & Peruvian Pisco= Low Altitude Brandy

This is the 10th in a series mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco!

pisco vs singani

While it’s true that signani is associated with high altitudes, Peruvian pisco can be produced at altitudes as high as 2,000 meters (6,562 feet).

 

We presented many differences between Peruvian pisco and singani in a past blog post. However, we wanted to elaborate on the subject of altitude. Singani is most often associated with high altitudes, as it must be produced at 5,250 feet or higher from grapes grown at those elevations. While that classification is well deserved for Bolivia’s clear brandy, it is important to note that Peruvian pisco is not necessarily a low altitude brandy.

Peruvian pisco is associated with lower altitudes, more specifically, coastal valleys. The D.O. in Perú requires that pisco be produced at 6,562 feet or lower from grapes grown at those elevations. Keep in mind 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! 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.

So the next time you hear the misconception that Peruvian pisco is a low altitude brandy, you can clarify. Yes, it can be made on the coast of Peru, but you will also find pisco vineyards and distilleries way high in the Andes mountains at 5,837, an altitude that is significantly higher than the famed “Mile High City”!

 

The Diversity of Peruvian Pisco

peruvian pisco, pisco peruano, 28 julio

We at PiscoLogía would like to celebrate pisco on 28 de julio, Independence Day in Peru. However, to celebrate pisco, we must celebrate the diversity behind the beloved grape-based spirit.

The first grape vine in South America was planted in Lima between 1539 and 1541 by Hernando de Montenegro, a Spanish captain. In 1551, the first wine was made by Spanish colonists.

The name “pisco” comes from Quechua, the language of the Incas.

The pre-Inca and Inca civilizations created very sophisticated agricultural and irrigation systems. Without indigenous land, agricultural knowledge manpower, viticulture would not have thrived like it has for hundreds of years.

Historically, the people who have planted, harvested and hauled the grapes have been Indigenous laborers and African slaves.

While distillation came to Peru with the Spanish, it is an Arabic technology.

Pisco is the fusion of peoples, cultures, and history. And with each sip we are honoring each and every one.

Myth #9- A wine-making ban led to pisco production in Peru

We are back to our series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco!

history wine peru, history pisco peru, pisco, peruvian pisco

 

Vintners in Peru started making pisco when Spain tried to hinder wine-making.  However, the story is more complicated than a simple restriction.

 

According to historian Guillermo Toro-Lira, the first vineyard in South America was planted in Lima between 1539 and 1541 by Hernando de Montenegro, a Spanish captain (Lima). The first wine was made in 1551, marking the beginning of a new era of wine-making in the New World. By the end of the 16th century, delicious Peruvian wine was demanded around the world, creating formidable competition for Spain’s winemakers.

To hinder wine production in Peru, Spanish royalty imposed high taxes, banned Peruvian wine in Spanish colonies and prohibited the planting of new vines in Peru. However, their attempts were unsuccessful until 1641, when King Philip IV prohibited the importation of Peruvian wine to Spain. Peru was then cut off from one of its last remaining markets. Here is a summary of the timeline:

  • 1539 -1541– First vine (Listán Prieto) planted in Lima by Hernando de Montenegro
  • 1551– First wine made in Lima, making Peru the first winemaking region in South America
  • 1595– Felipe II prohibited planting vines in the colonies. However, people continued planting and making wine.
  • 1595– Felipe II- started taxing vineyard owners, which diminished the amount of vines in Peru.
  • 1614– Peruvian wine was competing so much with Spanish wine that King Philip III prohibited the importation of Peruvian wine to Panama.
  • 1615– The sale of Peruvian wine was banned in Guatemala.
  • 1641– King Philip IV prohibited the importation of Peruvian wine to Spain. Since the market for wine was cut off, vintners in Peru began to use their grapes to make pisco.

 

Instead of abandoning their vines, locals began to use the grapes to make brandy in lieu of wine. Over time, the viticultural knowledge of the Spanish blended with agricultural traditions passed down from the Incas. Years of trial and error led to diversification and selection of the best varieties, identification of optimal regions for grape growing and improved production practices. These factors, along with a climate favorable to grape growing, have allowed Peruvians to proudly craft their national beverage for hundreds of years.

So now you know, a series of restrictions that spanned over the course of 100 years led Peruvians to start making clear brandy. While the decision was detrimental to the wine industry in Peru, thankfully Peruvians were able to use their grapes, knowledge and manpower to make pisco.

 

Sources:  

Huertas Vallejos, Lorenzo. “Historia De La Producción De Vinos y Piscos En El Perú.” Revista Universum, vol. 2, no. 19, 2004, pp. 44–61.

“Lima, Cuna Del Primer Viñedo y Del Primer Vino De Suramérica.” www.efe.com, 28 Sept. 2018, www.efe.com/efe/america/gente/lima-cuna-del-primer-vinedo-y-vino-de-suramerica/20000014-3763502.

 

Peruvian Pisco vs. Chilean Pisco

One of the most hotly debated subjects around the world is: “Is pisco Peruvian or Chilean”? Because indisputable historical and etymological evidence suggests that pisco was first produced in Perú, we firmly believe pisco is Peruvian.  So, in order to protect the Denomination of Origin for pisco in Perú, we will use the term “Chilean brandy”.

Despite the argument over the origin and ownership of pisco, it is indisputable that Peruvian pisco and Chilean brandy are very different distilled spirits. What follows is a comparison of both. In the chart below, we compare their production methods, the grape varieties used, their production zones and more.

peruvian vs. chilean pisco, is pisco peruvian?

PiscoLogía Quebranta Wins Gold Medal at the Women’s Wine and Spirits Awards in London

womens wine spirits award, spirits award, gold medal pisco, gold medal

 

LIMA, PeruNov. 16, 2019 — PiscoLogía Quebranta, a single-variety Peruvian pisco made from Quebranta grapes, won a gold medal at 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.

PiscoLogía is available in the USA through Craft Distillers, in Canada through the Unknown Agency and in Japan through The Blue Habu Trade Group.

 

 

About Piscología Pisco Puro Quebranta

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.

 

NOTES FOR NEWS EDITOR:

For further images, see link here: http://wineawards.org/medal-and-press-images/

Full results on https://wineawards.org/wwsa-2020-results/

The Best Pisco Is Made With Intuition

Nati Gordillo, pisco distiller, peruvian pisco, women liquor industry

 

I recently sat down with Nati over a delicious meal, as one always does with Nati, to conduct an interview for this blog post. Since forming the band of women that lead our company, we 3 PiscoLogía partners have never lived in the same city. My goal was to pinpoint exactly what makes Nati so special, as understanding each other helps our partnership thrive. I quickly discovered that besides being the most talented master distiller, Nati’s profound intuition is what sets her apart from others.

Nati’s intuition is manifested in the way she connects with nature. It all started in northwestern Peru, in the city of Piura, where Nati grew up among lush agricultural fields. She used to spend hours in orchards as a child, harvesting juicy guavas and other sweet treats. In her youth, Nati formed a special bond with Pachamama (Mother Earth), a bond that nagged her after starting a family in the bustling city of Lima.

In 1998, Nati’s yearning to connect with nature brought her to Azpitia, where she happened upon a plot of land for sale. At first glance, the sandy hills of Azpitia seemed inhospitable to plants. However, Nati’s intuition allowed her to recognize the unique terroir and immense potential in the barren, rolling slopes. First she would have to channel glacial meltwater from Andean Lagoons to bring life to her project. Then she would have to cleanse the soil of salt- residue from the briny Pacific Ocean mist that had accumulated for centuries.

She irrigated day and night to remove the salt and resuscitate the coastal desert. After a year, native plants began to appear, proving her land was ready for Quebranta, Italia and Torontel vines. Throughout the waiting process, Nati contemplated the circle of life that surrounded her, monitoring the moon’s phases, honoring Pachamama to bless her future crops and sowing native plants that would benefit her vines. She also studied the practices of those who came before her, adopting agricultural techniques from the Incas and viticulture concepts from the Spaniards.

Three years later, she rented a still to distill her first batch of pisco. Nati patiently supervised as the clear brandy collected in the well, drip by drip, for 33 hours. The experience gave her the confidence and determination to learn more. One course and a Sommelier degree later, and Nati was ready to buy her first 300L copper-pot still, which boldly shines in the distillery today.

Learning a trade and running a business can be tumultuous. However, one thing has always guided Nati: her intuition. It tells her how to raise her grapes, when to harvest and how to listen to nature. It gives her the insight to know when to cut the heads from the tails and how to care for the pisco after distillation. Her clairvoyance makes her treat the Earth with respect before reaping its benefits. That is why Nati’s pisco is so extraordinary. She creates delicacies with nature’s ingredients through a deliberate, respectful and loving process.

When I asked Nati what she wanted the world to know about her, she humbly answered that she believes in putting positive energy into everything she does. She stated that she likes crafting pisco because it is an act of giving to others. Her comments made me reflect on how lucky Kami and I are to work with Nati. Her quiet introspection completes the puzzle of our partnership, guiding us to make wise business decisions. I then realized that Nati isn’t the most talented master distiller AND the most intuitive; she is the most talented master distiller BECAUSE of her intuition.

Soon Nati’s daughter Beatriz will start her apprenticeship to learn how to distill pisco with her mom. Beatriz will learn well from her mom’s talent and sixth sense.  We all know that the best pisco is made with more than just skill; you need positive energy, respect for Pachamama, and most importantly, intuition.

Pisco Cocktail Recipe Postcards

If you love Kami’s pisco cocktails, now you can download our recipe postcards! Click on the links below to learn more about the diverse ways to mix PiscoLogía. In addition to classic pisco cocktails such as the Capitán and Chilcano, you will also find new renditions of traditionally rum-based cocktails such as the Mai Tai and Piña Colada. Finally, if you are looking for something new, we know you won’t be disappointed by the spicy Bees Knees Stings or the Flor Canela.

 

Do you need high resolution files? Please contact us at info@topaspirits.com.

 

pisco cocktail, pisco logia, acholado, quebranta, spicy cocktail

 

Bees Knees Stings

Capitan Perfecto

Dr. Hopeful

Flor Canela

Mai Nikkei Tai

Matcha Colada

Pisco & Tonic

San Martin Cocktail

Watermelon Chilcano

 

Pisco & Tonic – The Most Peruvian Cocktail

cinchona, pisco tonic, tonic, quina

Cinchona Bark

 

If you think the pisco sour is the most Peruvian cocktail, it may surprise you to hear that we think the pisco & tonic should be the flagship cocktail of Peru. Quinine, the ingredient that gives tonic water its bitter taste, comes from the bark of Peru’s national tree, the cinchona.

There are 23 species of cinchona plants, six of which only grow in the tropical areas of the Peruvian Andes. The Cinchona officinalis (quina in Spanish) is among those 6 species. Quinine from this tree is not only used to make tonic water, but it also has been historically used to treat malaria.

You can make your own tonic water by soaking cinchona bark in carbonated water. However, it’s difficult to find. Sadly, cinchona trees are in danger of extinction.

We believe the pisco tonic should be revered as the quintessential Peruvian cocktail. Tonic, made from bark from Peru’s national tree + pisco + ice =  the most Peruvian experience in a glass!

 

pisco tonic, Peruvian pisco, piscologia, pisco cocktails, acholado

Pisco y Tonic

1.5 oz PiscoLogía Acholado

Top with Fever Tree Tonic

Serve over ice. Garnish with kalamata olives & lime peel 

 

 

Sources:

Cortijo, Roberto. “Peru in Danger of Losing Its National Cinchona Tree.” Phys.org, 18 Oct. 2018, phys.org/news/2018-10-peru-danger-national-cinchona-tree.html.

 

Riepl, Martin. “Quina, El Casi Extinto Árbol Medicinal Del Escudo De Perú Que Pocos Patriotas Conocen e Inspiró El Gin Tonic .” BBC News Mundo, BBC, 28 July 2017, www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-40744976.

Create a Pisco Sour Without the Egg!

vegan pisco sour, pisco sour without egg

Credit: Blue Habu

 

The unappetizing odor, fear of food-borne illnesses and adherence to a vegan diet are reasons many avoid raw eggs in their cocktails. The traditional pisco sour recipe relies on egg whites to create its creamy foam. However, these 3 alternatives use aquafaba, Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer and organic soy milk to create a similar texture.

 

First, Tara Duggan from the San Francisco Chronicle uses aquafaba:
  • 2 oz. Pisco
  • 1 oz. aquafaba, or the drained water from a can of unsalted garbanzo beans
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or ¾ oz. simple syrup

 

Nico from Pisco Trail works with Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer in lieu of egg whites:
  • 2 oz. PiscoLogía Pisco Quebranta
  • 1 oz. Lime juice
  • 1 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1/2 Dropper Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer

 

Maurice Dudley from Blue Habu in Okinawa uses organic soy milk:
  • 2 oz. PiscoLogía Pisco Acholado
  • 1 oz. Shiquasa liquer
  • 1 oz. Gum syrup
  • 1 oz. Organic soy milk

 

*For all recipes, place all ingredients in a shaker without ice. Shake for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake again. Strain into chilled glass. When foam rises, garnish with 3 drops of bitters.

 

Pro-tip- If you’re making a maracuyá sour, passionfruit makes a natural foam. Vigorously shake 1 oz. of pure passionfruit juice with pisco and simple syrup. You will be pleasantly surprised by the natural froth that forms from the juice.

Leave us a comment if you find a favorite substitute for eggs whites for your pisco sours!

 

 

Sources:

Blue Habu Trade Group. “The 4-30”. https://web.facebook.com/bluehabutrade/. January 20, 2018.

 

Duggan, Tara. “Recipe: Aquafaba Pisco Sour Cocktail.” SFChronicle.com, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 Mar. 2016, www.sfchronicle.com/recipes/article/Recipe-Aquafaba-Pisco-Sour-Cocktail-6880706.php.

 

Vera, Nico. “Vegan Pisco Sour .” Pisco Trail, 2 Feb. 2019, www.piscotrail.com/2019/02/02/cocktails/vegan-pisco-sour/.

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