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Pisco

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All about pisco

What is pisco?

Pisco is a beloved, traditional Andean brandy distilled from 8 possible grape wines. Pisco comes in several varieties, each offering new ways to capture the essence of the grapes and the unique flavors of the soil where they grew. This isn’t Napoleon’s brandy, which isn’t to say he wouldn’t have liked it.

How is pisco different from Cognac?

The land – or “terroir” – where pisco’s grapes grow is vastly different from Cognac’s temperate French home. The South American grapes face brutal sun and scarce rainfall. Some producers even trim the leaves to give the grapes nowhere to hide. As the sun pummels the thirsty grapes, they concentrate their sugars, intensifying flavor compounds. Another important contrast to Cognac is that pisco rarely ages in oak. In fact, the Peruvians never do it.  Naturally, they’re pretty different brandies.

What kinds of Pisco are there and what do they taste like?

Pisco’s varieties are:

Puro: distilled from a single, fully fermented dry grape, often Quebranta. Puro’s most neutral Pisco, but it’s by no means boring. Distillation concentrates the delicate white grape flavors and residual sweetness and fades to warm pepper and herbal, almost earthy character.

Puro Aromatico: still a single type of grape, but a more aromatic one like Torontel. These are more aromatic and the nose/flavor yields floral and citrusy character, with pineapple and even mango notes.

Acholado: the distiller blends any variety of approved grapes, so this can be the most varied variety for both distiller and drinker. Expect a range of flavors from this one.

Mosto Verdo: the hardest to make, most complex and usually priciest pisco. Distillers interrupt the wine midway through fermentation, leaving significant sugar behind when distillation begins. Leftover sugars leads to rounder, fuller Pisco and muted alcohol/pepper heat. Made from any blend of approved grapes, this is smooth, elite pisco with limitless flavor and complexity.

Serving and drinking pisco

You can/should sip high-quality pisco neat as a digestif. It has also become crazy famous for pisco sour, a South American twist on the whiskey sour that is pisco’s gateway to the world of cocktails. This spirit also goes well with citrus, ginger, and many other bright cocktail flavors.

Both Chile and Peru claim pisco as their national drink. That’s understandable considering how special it is. Let’s tiptoe around that controversy and just enjoy pisco from both countries with Drizly! Click these links to search for Drizly in your city, and look for liquor stores on Drizly near you.

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