Tradition is what makes PiscoLogía’s terroir truly exceptional. From spiritual rituals in the vineyard to labeling the bottles, everything Nati does ensures that her unrivaled craft that shows in every bottle.
In August, after hand-pruning every vine, Nati gives thanks to Pachamama, the Mother Earth of the Incas. This spiritual practice ensures harmony in the environment and a plentiful growth cycle.
The grapes receive individual care when they are hand-picked and hand selected, only the finest will be crushed and transformed into wine by fermentation by native yeasts.
Then in distillation, her insight and scientific knowledge tell her when to cut the heads from the tails, how to manage the calientavinos to save energy and how to care for the pisco during the resting phase. Her copper pot still is the device that allows her to express her skill, allowing all the factors that make our terroir shine through in every bottle of PiscoLogía.
The conversion of wine to pisco is much more than a scientific process; it’s a manifestation of Nati’s skill and intuition, resulting in the maximum expression of terroir in every bottle.
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. Growing healthy grapes outside of those parallels can be extremely difficult.
So how are we able to produce healthy pisco grapes in Azpitia, located at 12° S in the Tropic of Capricorn? 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. When the Current brings frigid waters from the Southern Chile to Northern Peru, it cools the ocean & creates dry, chilled air. This is why the Peruvian coastline is so arid. Where a dense jungle would normally lie, sand dunes and cacti line the coasts, creating very favorable wine-making conditions.
Upwelling that occurs when the cool current meets tropical waters brings rich nutrients to the surface, creating an irresistible feast for Peruvian birds. In the 16th Century, people dedicated a portion of the coast to the abundant bird population by naming the area “Pisco”.
Because of this fascinating phenomenon, we can grow grapes in optimal conditions and produce the high-quality wine that we distill to make PiscoLogía.
PiscoLogía’s vineyards are located 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean at 200 meters above sea level. This proximity and altitude create a perfect storm in the evening, when the ocean breeze channels through the Mala River Valley to reach our vineyards, reducing the temperature surrounding our vines.
This cooling phenomenon provides us with grapes with higher acidity levels. Grapes with higher acidity create a more balanced wine, the wine we use to make PiscoLogía!
Vineyards near the coast are exposed to the tiny particles leftover from evaporated ocean spray droplets. Air currents carry the particles from the sea, depositing them on grape skins and the soil.
They then blend into the batch during production. Because wine is distilled only one time to make pisco. many characteristics of the wine shine through in the final product. When Distilled one time, A briny, minerally wine will create a pisco with similar descriptors.
This brackish mist is just like the natural yeasts in our vineyards in Azpitia. They are floating in the air, forming the uniqueness that is our terroir.
The 4 aromatic pisco grapes are Albilla, Torontel, Italia and Moscatel. The 4 non-aromatic grapes are Quebranta, Uvina, Mollar and Negra Criolla. But before we explore each variety, first let’s talk about the 2 categories of pisco grapes: aromatic and non-aromatic. While the latter categorization might imply that some piscos lack aromas, it should be clarified that all varieties of Peruvian pisco have very expressive aromas. This often creates confusion for people not familiar with Peruvian pisco. They understandably expect a “non-aromatic” pisco to not have any aromas.
All the Peruvian pisco grapes have highly aromatic qualities because of production methods required by the Denomination of Origin in Peru. First, the single distillation method helps bring out the unique aromatic profile of each grape variety. Then, resting in neutral casks enhances aromas while preserving the pisco’s original identity. This is different than spirits that age in barrels whose flavors and aromas are altered by wood. Please watch the video below for more information.
In lesson 2, you will learn about the differences between the 3 types of piscos: pisco puro, pisco acholado & mosto verde. What differentiates one type of pisco from another depends on the grapes, not in the varieties used to make them, but in the way they are used.
Pisco puro is made from one grape. For example, Quebranta is a grape used to make Peruvian pisco, just like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are grapes used to make wine. So, pisco puro de quebranta is a pisco made from just one variety, the quebranta grape.
Acholado means blend. An acholado can be made from a blend of grapes or a blend of piscos, which means a distiller can combine the grapes before distillation or the piscos after distillation. In the case of PiscoLogía, our master distiller Nati blends Italia and Quebranta piscos before bottling. This allows her to create the perfect formula in each batch once the flavors and aromas have melded during the resting phase.
Finally, a mosto verde pisco is made from musts that aren’t fully fermented, such that the yeasts haven’t completely converted all of the sugars from the grape juice into wine. This results in mosto verdes having a more silky texture and are more aromatic.
We are back to our series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about 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.
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.
LIMA, Peru – Nov. 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.
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.
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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.
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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:
Maurice Dudley fromBlue Habuin 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!