Hi folks, I was recently invited to celebrate Peru’s National Pisco Day at The Chanakya in New Delhi. I was excited to attend the event organised by the Embassy of Peru in New Delhi, but I had no clue what Pisco was! If you are in the same boat as me, read on to learn about this delicious Peruvian fine grape brandy.
ORIGINS OF PISCO:
South America’s first liquor was produced in Peru in the 16th century, which was used for making Pisco. The word comes from the Quechua word ‘Pisku’ which denotes a bird. In 2005, Peru received a Geographical Indication (GI) from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for Pisco– this drink is to Peru what Champagne is to France.
Peru has the ideal agro-ecological conditions to produce the sweet grape varieties required to make Pisco. Eight varieties of grapes are produced along a 1200 km coastal strip and beautiful valleys.
WHAT MAKES PISCO STAND APART FROM OTHER DRINKS?
In order to qualify as Pisco, the liquid must be “translucent, crystalline, bright and clear, like a diamond”. Its nose must offer “clean, elegant and distinguished aromas, with fruity, floral and citrus notes.” Its flavor should be “warm, structured and balanced, fresh and with great personality and aftertaste.” (Information taken from the PR brochure).
Pisco’s signature quality is its fresh fermentation, direct and unobstructed production, and a high alcohol percentage by volume content between 40%-50%. It also must have a resting period of minimum three months before being bottled.
I tried it for the first time at the event and thoroughly enjoyed its light fruity flavour, when mixed with tonic. It went down smooth and I did not feel any burning sensation despite the high alcohol content. To be very honest, I had never tasted any alcoholic drink like it before.
Picture courtesy: http://www.liquor.com
HOW SHOULD YOU DRINK PISCO?
Pisco can be enjoyed straight up with mixers such as tonic water, soda or ginger ale. However, its unique flavours and aroma, high alcohol content, and smooth delivery, make it a good additive to cocktails. Some of the Peruvian favourites are:
- Pisco Punch:
A refreshing cocktail made of Pisco and Pineapple dating back to the 19th century.
- Pisco Mule:
Pisco, ice, lime juice and ginger beer are a refreshing take on the Moscow Mule. This drink was most popular in the 1940s with Hollywood’s swish set.
Pisco, ginger ale, a slice of lemon and ice is one of the most traditional and staple Pisco cocktails.
Pisco and vermouth make a strong drink that was favoured by the Captain of the Peruvian army in the 1920s, for which it is named.
- Blueberry Cocktail:
Pisco, ice, lime juice, cane syrup, and cranberry juice decorated with mint leaves make for a tasty drink indeed.
Pisco Cocktail. Picture courtesy: http://www.againstallgrain.com
HERE’S WHY YOU MUST TRY PISCO PERUVIAN BRANDY:
Pisco has won many international awards including the Vinalie Internationale from France and the International Wine & Spirits Competition from England. As stated earlier, it has a high alcohol content without any burn, and a fruity delicious flavor that makes it ideal for cocktails.
Having tried this delicious drink, I am now more keen than ever before to visit Peru. I can’t wait to sample new things from, learn more about and explore the culture of this fascinating country.
Have you tried Pisco yet? Or visited Peru? Tell me in the comments below!
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