Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Peruvian Pisco (4)

Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Peruvian Pisco (4)

According to the Peruvian historian Alicia Polvarini, in the 18th century, the best grape brandy, called “aguardiente de Pisco” or simply “pisco,” was produced with great skill. It became very popular in Europe at the end of the 18th century and during the 19th century. This was confirmed by maritime and land customs records, as well as by the increase in the value of the jars sold in that valley.

Based on a previous study, Argentine researcher Pablo Lacoste mentions that the first references to the name “Pisco” to refer to Peruvian brandy are found in customs records from 1764. Originally, “so many peruleras of brandy from the Pisco region” was mentioned, but over time the word “brandy” was omitted, and simply “so many peruleras of Pisco” was used. This shows that the designation “Pisco” was based on the geographical location.

Pablo Lacoste explains that although in the early years of the 18th century, production in the area was primarily wine with a small amount of brandy, this trend gradually changed. By 1767, brandy, mostly from the Pisco region, represented 90% of all wine production.

Lorenzo Huerta adds that according to the studies of Brown Kendall and Jakob Schlüpman, wine and brandy production in Peru began to decline during the 18th century.

On the other hand, Jakob Schlüpman indicates that it was around the mid-18th century when wines produced in Concepción began to be imported through Valparaíso. By the late 19th century, brandy was also being imported from that same port.

Various accounts from foreign travelers attest to the quality of Peruvian pisco. In 1824, the Englishman Hugh Salvin mentioned that a strong liquor named after the city was made in Pisco. In 1826, the Englishman Charles Milner Ricketts noted that Pisco brandy was preferred by the landowners in the area. In 1838, the German Johann Jakob Von Tschudi explained that Pisco brandy was exquisite and supplied a large part of Chile and Peru. The American writer Thomas W. Knox described pisco in 1872 as a colorless, fragrant, strong but delicate drink with a pronounced fruity aroma. He also mentioned that it was popular in San Francisco.

In the mid-19th century, Peru had around 150,000 hectares of vineyards dedicated to producing pisco.

In an anecdote related to the pisco trade, it is said that Peruvian merchant ships brought pisco to the port of San Francisco during the Gold Rush in the 1840s. The crews of some ships abandoned their vessels due to the Gold Rush, leading the Peruvian government to send a warship to protect naval interests. This ship, along with American authorities, helped restore order in San Francisco.

In summary, the 18th century witnessed the rising fame and production of the grape brandy known as “pisco.” Travelers and historical records tell us about its refined production, its importance in trade, and its popularity both in Peru and abroad.
Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Peruvian Pisco (5)

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