So we had heard about this pisco stuff when a mate of ours visited Chile some years ago. However our stint in Chile was pretty short so we were stoked to learn that pisco is also popular in Peru. In fact, the two countries have been arguing for a long time over who invented it first.
Fortunately a couple of entreprenuers have started up a Pisco Museum in Cusco. We were expecting something low key but the museum could be more accurately described as a cocktail bar.
There's all sorts of information on how pisco is made but we recommend having a go at the degustation. There were several options, we went with a tasting of four bottles. To our surprise this came with a talk from one of the staff (cheers Sergio!), who walked us through how the various varieties are made. The service was excellent and it was a lot of fun.
The bottles in the degustation have been hand picked by the museum owners. That must have been quite a task as there are many, many producers.
In brief, there's a bunch of different varieties, distinguished by whether the grapes are red or white. Production involves a staged distillation process that is periodically 'paused' to control fermentation of the grapes, resulting in a sharp, crisp product at the end. Would love to say more but pisco consumption got in the way of note taking…
Here's the low down on the tastings. The type of pisco is listed after the name of the producer.
- Don Zacarias, Quebranta (no date). Made in Lima. Strong sharp taste. Fruity. Pronounced, lingering aftertaste.
- Ferreyros Acholado, Cosecha (2011). A mix of red and white grapes. Smoother, more body to it, easier to drink. No pronounced aftertaste. Made in Ica.
- Estirpe Peruana, Puro Moscatel (2008). A bit sharp but not as much as the Don Zacarias. A mid-step between the two; still an aftertaste but not as strong, still a bit smooth but not as smooth as the Ferrey. Tasted better on the second mouthful.
- Don Amadeo, Torontel (2012). Tastes a bit like a muscat. Made in Lima. Fruity, not too sharp with a strong aroma. Added lime, became refreshing and easier to drink.
This experience kickstarted a whole lotta pisco concumption while we were in Peru. We mostly stuck to Pisco Sours, the national cocktail. It originated in Lima and Mark actually visited one of the hotels that helped make it popular, the Gran Bolivar Hotel. The drink uses quebranta pisco and is mixed with egg whites, limes and sugar syrup. As it settles the egg whites seperate from the mix resulting in a layered cocktail. Very refreshing on a hot day.
We've had a few goes at making them with mixed results. It is probably a good thing that they aren't easy to replicate, best to go straight to Peru!
Here's a picture of bacon with chocolate sauce. It was delicious. Get on to that. Now.