“What the hell is Pisco” – is what I have been hearing quite a bit this past week when discussing a my Pisco Project that I have been working on.
Pisco itself is a brandy style alcohol made in Peru and Chile. Wikipedia has a great write-up on all the in’s out’s and about’s on Pisco but the short and sweet right at ya: Peruvian Pisco is usually clear and of certain grape classes whereas Chilean is more colored due to the barrel aging process. Peru also does not allow dilution, just straight single distillation and then off to bottling.
While Pisco, theoretically, is Brandy in style, I feel it is more closer to being Whisk(e)y in use, taste, and in some cases, production. Plus it is damn strong, is typically drank neat, and people in the know seem to get damn picky (like Whisk(e)y drinkers).
For my Pisco Project, I picked one each of Chilean and Peruvian Pisco’s, and put them thru good ol Q-Bar and a random assortment of drink recipes, their own recipes, and a couple of Surprise items. With that I have two bottle breakdowns coming your way, the official IBA Cocktail for Pisco (Pisco Sour!), and as much Pisco as I can drink. So far in the past week or so I have made close to 30 different drinks and counting, taking breaks here and there with my trusty Everlasting Sangria’s and plenty of snacks (Costco Pubmix!). And, well, I did have to go to work – that kinda slowed me down a bit.
What else can I say about Pisco? Well, If you like Whiskey or Brandy at all, you will probably like Pisco – it comes 80 proof (the prior mentioned punch), likes to lend itself to being served neat, and can get upset if mixed into drinks in the wrong way.
In addition to that, the production style and grapes used in making Pisco come strongly into play with what will excite, or deflate your own palate – and this is why I believe Pisco is more akin to Whiskey with these traits. A great Whiskey relies on all it’s ingredients available locally near the distillery, and factors such as water, the grains used, the barrels used, and the aging methods all factor in to the flavor profile. Pisco producers do pretty much the same thing with grape type, barrels (in case of Chilean), and the other sourced ingredients and production styles.
I can’t pick a favorite because I haven’t sampled enough yet (only about 3 bottles or so thus far) – however I have the lucky pleasure of being here in the Bay Area, and there being a Pisco themed bar up in The City for me to visit, and see what they have going on (and of course, see if they are up to snuff like Q-Bar).
Stick with me this week as we take this Liquorious trip to South America, and into the Pisco rivalry of Chile and Peru.