Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Peruvian Pisco (1)

Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Peruvian Pisco (1)

Peruvian Pisco stands as a jewel of designation of origin, reserving its exclusivity for the grape brandy produced in Peruvian territory since the early 16th century. This emblematic distillation, rooted in tradition, is extracted from the fermented wine of certain grape varieties belonging to Vitis vinifera. Its renown has transcended borders, as meticulous records of expeditions departing from the port of Pisco to various European and American destinations since the 17th century onwards attest. Among those fortunate to experience its flavors are the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Guatemala, Panama, and the United States, which embraced its nuances in the mid-19th century.
Peruvian Pisco, with its captivating essence, stands as one of the most distinctive symbols of the Andean nation, with its creation confined to the coastal region, specifically up to 2000 meters above sea level, in the departments of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna.
Sourvenir de Pisco, PISCO
The issue of the “pisco” designation of origin sparks a sustained controversy between Chile and Peru. According to the accounts of the chronicler Justo Abel Rosales, the adoption of the term “Pisco” in Chile did not occur until around the year 1896, as documented in his book: “No aguardiente was served, neither in its pure state nor as a mix; Pisco was served. The innovation in the name, directly imported from Peru.” Similarly, José Toribio Medina, in his work “Chilenismos, apuntes lexicográficos” published in 1928, supports the same perspective.
Historical Roots

The word “pisqu” in the southern Quechua language, spoken in much of Peru before the arrival of Spanish colonizers, refers to small birds. This word appears in chronicles with variants such as “pisku,” “phishgo,” and “pichiu.” Similarly, it is integrated into geographical names in various regions of the country, not only in the southern Quechua variant but also in its other derivatives, such as “pishqu.”

The Peruvian coastal strip has always stood out for hosting significant bird populations that found sustenance in the rich supply of fish, especially in the region known as the “Sur Chico.” Among the valleys associated with the Pisco, Ica, and Grande rivers, this phenomenon is prominently manifested.

In the Pisco valley, more than two thousand years ago, a human community flourished, distinguished by its pottery and ceramics. In the time of the Inca Empire, they were renowned for their notable pottery productions, baptized as “piskos.”

Since then, one of the most prominent pottery products was containers or amphorae used to store various beverages, including alcoholic ones. These containers were named “piskos.”

Evolutionarily, the first grape brandy produced in Peruvian soil was stored in these “piskos,” and over time, the alcoholic elixir adopted the name of its container.

Additionally, the Royal Spanish Academy, in its Dictionary of the Spanish Language, confirms the origin of the term “pisco” as derived from the city of Pisco, located in the Ica department in Peru. This confirmation reinforces the historical and cultural connection of the term with the land of its origin.

In summary, Peruvian Pisco transcends its category of brandy to become a cultural and gastronomic heritage rooted in the pre-Columbian history of the region. Its origin intertwines with the ceramic “piskos” of ancient times, giving name and form to a distillate that has conquered palates and crossed oceans in its journey towards international recognition. Beyond disputes over its designation, Peruvian Pisco persists as a manifestation of identity, tradition, and excellence in the art of distillation.

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