Pisco means bird (Pishco) in the Quechua dialect. It is also the name of an ancient yet thoroughly modern, exquisite and popular alcohol distilled from grapes growing in the wine-producing regions of the mystical Ica Valley, near the bustling port and province of Pisco, close to the Nazca lines, in fertile Peru.
This elegant spirit is the exceptional product of a loving marriage of soil, climate and vines, which allow it to reach its full splendor. It is also the national spirit of Peru.
Pisco, and the many delicious cocktails and alcoholic mixed drinks made with it, has been popular for centuries and favored by royalty as well as the rich and famous worldwide. This exquisite spirit, second to none in the history of beverages, was savored by the Spanish Conquistadores from the time that the Marquis de Carabantes first imported the grapes to Peru from the Canary Islands in 1553. Pisco and its related cocktails was a fashionable alcoholic drink in California and New York since 1830, and the favorite drink to many Hollywood celebrities. (John Wayne was married to a Peruvian lady and was a connoisseur of great hand-crafted Pisco)
Rudyard Kipling, winner of the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote in his opus “From Sea to Sea”, published in 1899…” “Pisco…the noblest and most beautiful product of our era…I have the theory that it is composed of little cherub wings, the glory of a tropical sunrise, the red of sunset clouds and fragments of ancient epics written by the great fallen masters.”
As trade between Peru and Europe grew during the colonial years, so did the international popularity of Pisco. Pisco production began to dramatically expand in the 1940’s, thanks to economic and social stability in Peru, emanating from the export of its rich copper and gold resources. In the years following the re-establishment of Pisco production, many different varieties of grapes were used, leading to a wide variation in flavor, aroma, viscosity and appearance. This served to enhance its popularity among the connoisseurs even more.
Some of the distinguishing characteristics of this superb spirit are the result of a strict Peruvian code of production:
Pisco is not aged, but rather is rested. According to Peruvian Pisco regulations, Pisco must be rested for a minimum of three months in “neutral vessels of glass, stainless steel or any other material that does not alter its physical, chemical, or organic properties”. Pisco 100 is rested for longer periods than required by official regulations to ensure the highest quality.
Pisco must be bottled after the “resting” process, without alteration or the addition of any substance that could alter the aroma, flavor or appearance.
By law, the distilled proof of Peruvian Pisco may not be regulated or reduced by water. The alcoholic content varies between 38% and 48% (76 proof – 96 proof).
Today, Pisco is prominently featured in the Cocktail Museum of Las Vegas and is fast becoming all the rage again in the U.S. and fashionable cities around the world.