Distilled Spirits - Brandy - Pisco
The origin of pisco dates back to the nautical and mining need to concentrate and preserve wines in the coastal region of South America, close to the mining Andes. Unlike other alcoholic beverages, such as wine, pisco does not have a deeply rooted rural tradition but rather emerges as a practical response to the demands of navigation and mining.
Both Chilean and Peruvian pisco are grape brandies obtained by distilling white and pink strains of Vitis vinifera, approved as “pisquera grapes” according to respective legislations. However, there are significant differences between them beyond the production area.
Firstly, the production areas differ. Chilean pisco is produced in the regions of Atacama and Coquimbo, while Peruvian pisco is produced in the regions of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna. Each region has different geographical and climatic characteristics, which can influence the taste and aromatic profile of the pisco produced in each country.
Regarding the grapes used, Chilean pisco is primarily made from Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez, and Torontel grapes, while Peruvian pisco uses both aromatic varieties (Moscatel, Italia, Albilla, and Torontel) and non-aromatic varieties (Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Mollar, Uvina). This difference in grape varieties also contributes to the distinctive organoleptic and aromatic characteristics of each type of pisco.
Another difference lies in the production process. Both Chilean and Peruvian pisco can be produced industrially or artisanally, which can affect the distillation process and the resulting flavors.
The type of distillation is another factor that sets them apart. Chilean pisco is distilled in a single batch, meaning it is distilled only once in a still. In contrast, Peruvian pisco is distilled discontinuously in a still, involving multiple distillations.
Regarding the distillation cut, Chilean pisco separates the “heart” from the rest of the distillate, while Peruvian pisco does not make a cut and distills until reaching the desired alcohol content.
The number of distillations also differs. Chilean pisco can be distilled once or double or triple distilled, with no limit on the number of distillations. On the other hand, Peruvian pisco is distilled only once.
The alcohol content is another distinctive point. Chilean pisco usually has an alcohol content between 30° and 50°, while Peruvian pisco varies between 38° and 48°.
An important dispute between Chile and Peru is the designation of origin of pisco. Chile argues that the term “pisco” applies to the grape distillate produced in its territory, while Peru claims a close association with the city of Pisco and its surroundings. Both countries have obtained international recognition for the use of the term “pisco” in different countries and regions.
The dispute over the designation of origin has led to international recognitions in favor of both countries in different places. For example, the European Union recognizes Peru and Chile as pisco-producing countries and has granted geographical indication protection to both nations. In the United States, both “Chilean pisco” and “Peruvian pisco” are recognized as separate designations of origin.