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.
Connect with PiscoLogía on Facebook, Twitter and www.piscologia.com for cocktail ideas, contests and breaking product news.
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!
Ambos singani y pisco son aguardientes transparentes hechos por un proceso de destilación de uvas. Por sus características físicas, parecen semejantes. Sin embargo, cuando examinas sus métodos de destilación, sus zonas de producción, sus procesos de reposo, clasificaciones de calidad u otros detalles, encontrarás que son licores muy distintos. Aquí hay las diferencias entre el Singani boliviano y el pisco peruano:
Un aguardiente hecho de 1 o una mezcla de las 8 variedades de uva permitidas por la Denominación de Origen en Perú.
Un aguardiente hecho de la uva moscatel de Alejandría en Bolivia.
Reposa un mínimo de 3 meses en recipientes que no alteran el producto.
Reposa un mínimo de 6 meses en recipientes que no alteran el producto.
Se tiene que producir en una de las zonas geográficas designadas por la Denominación de Origen en Perú.
Pisco replaces rum in this Piña Colada-style concoction, showcasing the versatility of Peruvian pisco and highlighting its longstanding relationship with the pineapple.
The marriage of Peruvian pisco and pineapple happened thanks to Duncan Nicol, but the pineapple had gained fame in the USA long before the Pisco Punch. In the 1700’s, the tropical fruit began to symbolize opulence in the colonies- one pineapple cost the equivalent of $8,000 in today’s dollars, due to its “perishability, novelty, exoticism, and scarcity” (Raga).
When Nicol opened the Bank Exchange, the fruit was still a symbol of great wealth, but it had become less expensive due to the increased movement of goods during the Gold Rush. Ships used to stock up on prospecting supplies in Peru en route to San Francisco, among the goods were pisco and pineapples. The fruit soon became more accessible, allowing Nicol to mix pineapple syrup and pisco to woo San Francisco’s wealthiest drinkers.
Luckily pineapple is no longer for the elite, so we can use it in our favorite cocktails without breaking the bank. For this Matcha Colada, a Peruvian piña colada, we recommend PiscoLogía Acholado, our special blend of Quebranta and Italia piscos. The pineapple and coconut will pair beautifully with the tropical flavors and aromas of the Italia.
For a special treat, add matcha syrup and matcha dust, a finely ground powder of green tea leaves!
2 oz. Pisco Acholado
1 oz. Coconut cream
.75 oz. Pineapple juice
.75 oz. Matcha syrup
Shake and pour over pebble ice. Garnish with mint bundle and matcha dust
Before distillation, Peruvian pisco grapes are first crushed and then fermented to make wine. It is very important to make precise decisions about when to harvest so the grapes have the right amount of sugar, acidity and tannins. Having this balance gives us high-quality wine and pisco. Nati uses both science and intuition to determine if this balance has been achieved.
First, science is used to determine the sugar and pH levels. Nati uses specific measurements to determine that the Brix levels of our Quebranta are between 24°-26° and our Italia between 22°-23°. It is important to obtain the right amount of sugar because yeasts need glucose to convert the juice into wine. Furthermore, as grapes ripen, acidity drops as sugar levels increase. However, we need to maintain certain levels of acidity so the wine is well-rounded. Nati strives for a pH of around 3.2-3.4.
Nati also checks for physiological changes in the vines. This means that the grapes, stems and seeds have the proper coloring. The fruit should be bright and robust and the stems and seeds should be brown, indicating they are ripe.
Finally, she uses intuition when tasting the fruit. The fruit must taste sweet and have good acidity and tannins. Sugar is especially key in pisco production; the more you have, the higher the alcohol content.
Determining when to harvest is an extremely important step in the pisco production process. Perfecting the balance of science and intuition gives us grapes with better flavors and aromas and thus, a well-rounded pisco.
Singani and pisco are both clear grape brandies that share similar physical attributes. However, when you examine their distillation methods, geographical zones of production, resting techniques, quality classifications and other details, you will find that they are very different spirits. We have listed the differences between Bolivian Singani and Peruvian pisco in the chart below:
A brandy made from 1 or a blend of the 8 pisco grapes permitted by the D.O. in Peru.
A brandy made only from Muscat of Alexandria grapes in Bolivia.
Rests in neutral casks a minimum of 3 months.
Rests in neutral casks for a minimum of 6 months.
Must be made in one of the Pisco-producing regions as defined by the D.O. in Peru.
Must be made in one of the Singani-producing regions as defined by the D.O. in Bolivia.
Produced at 2,000m (6,562 feet) or lower from grapes grown at those elevations.
Produced at 1,600m (5,250 feet) or higher from grapes grown at those elevations.
Has both single-variety Piscos (puros) and blends (acholados).
Only single-variety Singanis are produced exclusively from the Muscat of Alexandria grape. No blending with other varieties is permitted.
Linguistic evidence suggests the word “pisco” comes from the native Quechua word “pishqu” (meaning bird).
Linguistic evidence suggests that the word “singani” comes from the native Aymara word “siwingani” (meaning sedge).
Only single distillation permitted.
Usually double distilled and watered down to proof.
No quality classification
Has quality classifications:
Singani de Altura
Singani de Primera
Singani de Segunda
Pomace may never be distilled in Pisco production.
Singani de Primera and Singani de Segunda may be made from the pomace leftovers from winemaking (similar to grappa)