October 2017: Pisco

Host: Phillip Horvey 

Additional background information on selected spirit:

We will be tasting Pisco from both Peru and Chile. Both countries claim to be the original distiller. Pisco is distilled from grapes in wine country in specific areas of both countries. Below are excerpts from Wikipedia regarding the spirits’ background in both countries.

Peru– Peruvian Pisco must be made in the country’s five official D.O. (Denomination of Origin) departments—Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna (only in the valleys of Locumba Locumba, Sama and Caplina)— established in 1991 by the government.

  • Puro (Pure), made from a single variety of grape, mostly Quebranta, although Mollar or Common Black can be used; however, no blending between varieties is accepted (“pure” pisco should contain only one variety of grape).
  • Aromáticas (Aromatic), made from Muscat or Muscat-derived grape varieties, and also from Albilla, Italia and Torontel grape varieties; once again, the pisco should only contain one variety of grape in any production lot.
  • Mosto Verde (Green Must), distilled from partially fermented must, this must be distilled before the fermentation process has completely transformed sugars into alcohol.
  • Acholado (Multivarietal), blended from the must of several varieties of grape.
  • Aging: Pisco must be aged for a minimum of three months in vessels of “glass, stainless steel or any other material which does not alter its physical, chemical or organic properties”.
  • Additives: No additives of any kind may be added to the pisco that could alter its flavor, odor, appearance or alcoholic proof.

Chile- Chilean Pisco must be made in the country’s two official D.O. (Denomination of Origin) regions—Atacama and Coquimbo—established in 1931 by the government. Most of it is produced with a “boutique” type of distillate. Other types are produced with double distillation in copper and other materials.

During the adaptation of many vineyards to pisco production, the most widespread grape was used as raw material, the Muscat, with some vineyards preferring the Torontel and Pedro Jiménez varieties. As is the case with Peru, regulations for pisco designations have been enacted in Chile, including the following classifications:

  • Pisco Corriente o Tradicional, 30% to 35% (60 to 70 proof).
  • Pisco Especial, 35% to 40% (70 to 80 proof).
  • Pisco Reservado, 40% (80 proof).
  • Gran Pisco, 43% or more (86 or more proof).

Regulation for pisco producing in Chile is quite high. Chilean distilleries are required to grow their own grapes and are grouped into two categories based in aromatic expressiveness: Muscat types (Pink Muscat, Muscat of Alexandria) are very fragrant, while Pedro Jiménez, Moscatel de Asturia and Torontel are more subtle.

The Special and Reserve variations are very similar in flavor and color, both being subtly sweet and of a clear birch to transparent color. The flavor is much stronger than regular pisco with aromatic refreshing tones

Cocktail: Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour Cocktail

  • Ingredients: 3 oz Pisco, 1 oz Egg White, 1 oz Simple Syrup, 1 oz, Key Lime Juice, Angostura Bitters.
  • Recipe: Mix ingredients in shaker with double the volume of ice. Strain into old fashioned glass. Garnish with 2-3 drops of bitters.


Bottle 1: Pisco Porton

Pisco Porton

  • Distillery: Hacienda La Caravedo
  • Proof: 86
  • Price: $39
  • Purchase location: masterofmalt.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: White dog, lemon, vanilla frosting, rubber.
    • Palate: Vanilla wafer cookies, white grapes.
    • Finish: Grapefruit pulp, citrus rine.
  • Why this bottle is featured: 2 of 3 Peruvian Pisco. The way in which it is aged or lack thereof.


Bottle 2: La Diablada

Pisco Diablada

  • Distillery: Macchu Pisco
  • Proof: 80
  • Price: $39
  • Purchase location:  masterofmalt.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Floral, tropical fruit, new faux leather, light basil.
    • Palate: Fresh grapes and a touch of peach, lavender, hibiscus, soapy.
    • Finish: Floral and fruit notes continue, light and refreshing.
  • Why this bottle is featured: 3 of 3 Peruvian Pisco. Because this incorporates several varietal grapes.


Bottle 3: Capel Transparent Pisco

Pisco Capel

  • Distillery: Capel
  • Proof: 80
  • Price: $26
  • Purchase location: masterofmalt.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Pie crust, some sea salt, briny, black licorice.
    • Palate: Lake water, flat, earthy, yet clean.
    • Finish: Sweet, candied vanilla bean, light.
  • Why this bottle is featured:  2 of 3 Chilean Pisco. Non-aged pisco from the same distiller as the first Chilean pisco. Plus, the double distillation gives it a unique flavor profile.


Bottle 4: Waqar Pisco Heron

Waqar Pisco Heron

  • Distillery: Pisquera Tulahuen
  • Proof: 80
  • Price: $53
  • Purchase Location: masterofmalt.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Light licorice, circus peanut, honeycomb, flintstone vitamins.
    • Palate: Lemon peel, raw honey, pepper.
    • Finish: Juniper berry, green grapes, citrus.
  • Why this bottle is featured: 3 of 3 Chilean Bottles. An aged unique flavored Chilean Pisco.

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