Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Chilean Pisco (2)

Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Chilean Pisco (2)

In the 19th century, the valleys of Elqui and Ica were colonial territories of the Spanish Empire. In 1818, Chile formally declared independence, and concerns arose about the economic scarcity in the Quillota region. A tax was proposed on traders who imported liquors from Elqui. In 1821, the town of San Isidro de Vicuña was founded due to the boom in agricultural activity, including wine and brandy production.

The use of the term “pisco” in Chile began in the late 19th century, according to the chronicler Justo Abel Rosales. After 1825, with the return of the Expeditionary Force to Peru, a cook named Rosalía introduced the name “pisco” in Chile through her restaurant in the capital. Until then, the term was unknown to the Chilean population.

In 1838 and 1842, the Swiss naturalist Johann Jakob von Tschudi described in his book the brandies that were shipped from the port of Pisco, mentioning that a large part of Chile was supplied with this beverage from the Ica Valley. Two types of brandy were shipped to Chile: the common brandy known as “aguardiente de Pisco” and the fine distilled brandy made from Muscat grapes, called “aguardiente Italia”.

In 1847, the writer José Joaquín Vallejo mentioned the sale of Pisco brandy at the port of Copiapó. Additionally, Pisco was produced in Huasco and other places in northern Chile.

In 1868, José Rodríguez Callejas built a winery and distillery for Pisco and fortified wines in the Elqui Valley, which gave rise to the estate “Los Nichos”. In 1870, Luis Hernández began producing grape brandy under the label “Pisco Luis Hernández”.

In 1875, Juan de Dios Peralta established the first Pisco distillery in La Serena, called “Pisco Tres Cruces”. In 1878, Olegario Alba Rivera traveled to Peru to study the production of Pisco and applied his knowledge at the estate “Bella Sombra”, creating “Pisco Alba”. This was the first production of Chilean Pisco that was commercialized in 1878 in Coquimbo and later in Valparaíso in 1882. Historian Virgilio Figueroa considers Olegario Alba as the true creator of the Chilean Pisco industry.

In 1880, Samuel Zepeda Ibáñez acquired the distillery and the Pisco brand of Luis Hernández. At the 1888 Universal Exhibition in Barcelona, the Pisco produced by Olegario Alba received an honorary mention. The following year, at the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris, the Chilean piscos “Tres Cruces”, “Luis Hernández”, and “Alba” were awarded prizes.

These events marked the emergence and development of the Pisco industry in Chile during the 19th century, with the introduction of the term “pisco,” production in different valleys, and participation in international exhibitions that recognized the quality of this beverage.

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