Pisco is the national spirit of both Peru and Chile. The potent, colorless grape brandy is increasingly appearing on the world market, though misinformation about its origins and distillation are rampid. Here at New World Review we are attempting to clear up some of these misconceptions and provide regular reviews of pisco brands and cocktails.
Differences Between Chilean and Peruvian Pisco
Peruvian Pisco: Peruvian pisco is more artisanal and produced by more than 300 rustic and semi-industrial distillers scattered across the southern coast of the country from Cañete to Tacna. In 2003, the Peruvian government enacted strict appellation of origin guidelines for pisco producers: pisco not have water added and that for the finished product to gain the title of pisco, it must be a completely clear liquid (no aging in oak to hide poor quality), and no additives are used to alter any of the physical, chemical or organic properties of the spirit. Peruvian piscos are distilled in copper alembic stills similar to the ones used to make Cognac.In 2008 Peruvian pisco surpassed Chile in sales on the world market and the spirit has become popular among modern mixologists.
Alcohol Content: 38% to 48% (76° to 96° proof)
Regions Produced: Lima, Ica (Ica, Chincha, Pisco), Arequipa, Moquegua and the Locumba, Sama and Caplina valleys in the Department of Tacna.
Grapes used: Non Aromatic: Quebranta, Common Black, Mollar, Uvina; Aromatic: Italia, Muscat, Albilla, Torontel
Chilean Pisco: Chilean pisco is mass produced, and in general though not always, is lacking in quality when compared to the pisco of Peru. Chile’s Pisco industry is controlled by just a handful of plus-size distillers in Valle de Elquí in the Chilean desert southeast of La Serena.The distillers are sophisticated, have optimal efficiency and they produce not only pisco but also pre-mixed Pisco Sour and Cola de Mono cocktails that are sold alongside beer and Coca-Cola in Chilean supermarkets. Far more pisco is produced and drank in Chile than anywhere else in the world and until 2008, Chilean pisco was all you would find on the world market.
Alcohol Content: 30% to 50% (60° to 100° proof)
Regions Produced: Atacama, Coquimbo.
Grapes used: Yellow Muscat, White Early Muscat, Alexandria Muscat, Austrian Muscat, Frontignan Muscat, Hamburg Muscat, Black Muscat, Pink Muscat, Canelli Muscat, Orange Muscat, Pedro Jiménez, Torontel.