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Photo: Marco Giovanetti

This week, i was in Lima, Peru. The purpose of my trip was to assist at the Mistura 2015 edition. For those that do not know, Mistura is an extensive international gastronomical festival highlighting Peruvian gastronomy.

For today post, i will cover the Pisco scene, which many including myself consider to be the national alcoholic drink of Peru. At the Pisco salon, i was able to taste many high quality varieties of this spirit. After tasting many types, i left without prejudice that this drink can be enjoyed by itself beyond the Pisco Sour.

The name derives from its place of origin, the seaside town of Pisco in southern Peru. Many sources trace back the birth of Pisco, the spirit, to the mid-15th to 16th century, a product of the mission grapes brought by Spanish settlers. The mission grapes adapted to the hot desert climate and developed into eight varieties which is enjoying soaring popularity among sommeliers and mixologists alike.

Authentic Pisco is a clear grape brandy that carries Denominación de Origen protected status, just like wine from Napa Valley or Champagne. definitely. It is truly a spirit with terroir.

The process star like this. Grapes are harvested with a high sugar content, made into wine and then distilled in a copper pot still to a higher alcohol content, from 40 to 45 alcohol %. Nothing is added, not even water. What you get is pure, unadulterated grape spirit. Depending on the grape variety, Pisco has notes of white flowers, spicy white pepper, blueberry or chocolate. And, those aromatic flavors make one hell of a drink. Pisco is unique among other grape based spirits, because they distill right away after the wine bas finished fermentation. In addition, it is made exclusively from must rather than using other grape leftovers such as pipes, seeds or skins.

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Photo: Marco Giovanetti

Paca Paca, one of the leading Peruvian Pisco producers has received numerous awards in both their domestic and international markets. They craft Pisco from monovarietals from in different parcels on the Ica Valley. Their Torontel de Ocucaje was awarded the prestigious gold medal at the Selections Mondiales des Spiriteux Canada. Their Italia Rosada, Quebranta and Mollar received the silver medal. This is quite an achievement since Paca Paca is relatively new distillery ( 2 years old) compared with their peers.

Photo: Marco Giovanetti

Photo: Marco Giovanetti

My favorite from all the line was the Quebranta displaying aromas of red berries, pink peppercorns with beautiful floral nuances. On the palate, it was round and elegant. I also really enjoyed their Italia Rosa, reminding me of a fine Grappa of Nebbiolo. It displayed a fine nose of petal roses, violets with a fine aroma of strawberry and vanilla bean. On the mouth, it was elegant but more structured than the Quebranta.

The Moscatel was also ravishing displaying wonderful notes of honey, white flowers, wax and vanilla bean. In the mouth, was very suave and smooth. Delicate and round like a good Spanish orujo.

Many thanks to  Maria Cristina Llanos from PromPeru, to allow to discover this wonderful Pisco producer. PromPeru is the Peruvian institution in charge to promote their tourism industry. I was invited by them to cover Mistura 2015.