Pisco

From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Pisco (disambiguation).

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Pisco is the name used for a variety of brandy distilled from grape produced in certain regions of Peru and Chile. A spirit using that name was first produced in the 16th century in the Province of Pisco (Peru), and later introduced in other regions. It is served straight or as a cocktail, most notably as Pisco sour in Peru and Chile

Contents

Varieties

Peruvian Pisco

Peruvian pisco is made mostly from Quebranta or Italia grapes. Peruvian regulations do not allow the addition of any substance during distillation. Based on the production process involved, it is further classified as:

  • Pure Pisco, made from a single variety of grape (no blending allowed).
  • Green Must Pisco, distilled from partially fermented and fresh must.
  • Pisco Acholado, blended from the must of several varieties of grape, it is stronger and has higher proof.

The types of grape permitted are:

  • Fragrant: Albila, Italia, Muscat or Torontel.
  • Non fragrant: Mollar, Common Black, Quebranta or Uvina.

Chilean Pisco

Chilean pisco is mainly produced with Muscat grapes in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions of Chile. Unlike Peruvian Pisco, Chilean producers add demineralized water in order to dilute the proof of the finished product. This practice has greatly diminished the quality of pisco in Chile, as lower proof spirits are produced at a much lower cost than "pure" pisco.

Etymology

Missing image
Piskos-Container_for_Pisco.jpg
Piscos

The origins of the word pisco can be traced to pre-colonial Peru. In the quechua language, the birds that inhabited the valleys of the Ica region were called pisco, pisku, phishgo, pichiu or pisccu (pisqu' in modern quechua alphabet).

The valley that was later to be named Pisco was settled at least two millennia ago by people that developed a great mastery of pottery. During the Inca Empire they were to become known as piskos. One of the main products they provided were the containers used to store beverages. These containers were also to known as piskos. The first grape brandy to be produced was stored in piskos, and as time went by, the beverage came to be known by the name given to its container.

History

The first vineyards in the Viceroyalty of Peru were planted in the fertile costal valleys of Peru shortly after the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores. The Marquis Francisco de Caravantes was the first to import grapes, bringing them from the Canary Islands in 1553. Even though Spain imposed many restrictions on wine production and commerce, the wine-making industry developed rapidly, mainly in the Corregimiento of Ica in Peru.

The oldest written historical record of grape brandy production in the Spanish colonies date back to Peru 1613. It is the will of a resident of Ica named Pedro Manuel the Greek. In it he itemizes his wordly goods, including 30 containers of grape brandy, one barrel of the same spirit, a large copper pot and all of the utensils needed to produce Pisco.

As was documented by early religious columnists arriving to Peru with the first conquerors, Pisco is a word coming from the Quechua language meaning bird. Lion Cieza in its general chronicle of Peru wrote in 1550 that Pisco was the name of birds, as the word pisco also forms part of a great number of towns, districts and Peruvian villages, such as Piscohuasi (house of birds) in Ancash, Piscotuna (fruit of birds) in Ayacucho, Piscopampa (prairie of birds in Arequipa), Piscobanba (plain of birds in Arequipa), among others. In the Quechua language, the word Pisco is present in various names with Peruvian origin as Pisconte, Piscoya, Piscocolla, etc.

The Incas, admired by the enormous quantity and diversity of birds they could observe along the Peruvian coast located approximately about 300 km south of Lima (in the valley of Ica), used the Quechua word Pisko to name that valley. That region was also inhabited by a community of indians called piskos, which were excellent ceramists and who produced earthen round short necked jugs (called Pisko by local people) with an interior coating of beewax, which were used to store alcoholic beverages and liquors. Subsequently, when the Spaniards named the liquor produced in that region they did so after the name of the very jugs that were used to contain it.

Pisco production grew rapidly, being shipped from the Peruvian harbour named Pisco, Pacific Ocean which in turn got its name after the liquor being shipped from it to all of the Spanish Colonies, including Chile.

Despite the unquestionable historical and written records attesting the Peruvian origin of the Pisco liquor, legal and comercial disputes on the right to label Pisco have been attempted by Chile, and to add support to its claim, in 1936 Chile renamed the town of La Union as Pisco Elqui. Peru has managed to register the origen denomination of the term Pisco in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panamá, República Dominicana and Venezuela, while Chile has been unable to obtain such registration in any country.

External Links

es:Pisco fr:Pisco

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