Pisco (from Quechua: pisqu, little bird) is a South American liquor distilled from grapes. Developed by Spanish settlers in the sixteenth century, it takes its name from the conical pottery in which it was originally aged, which was also the name of the city where it was produced: Pisco, in the Viceroyalty of Peru.
The first vineyards were planted in the coastal valleys in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Even though Spain imposed many restrictions on wine production and commerce, the wine-making industry developed rapidly, such as in the Corregimiento of Ica and La Serena in the Captaincy General of Chile. Ica and La Serena belongs to Viceroyalty of Peru.
In modern times, it continues to be produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. The drink is a widely consumed spirit in the nations of Bolivia, Chile and Peru. The right to produce and promote pisco has been the matter of legal disputes between Chile and Peru, both of which hold their most iconic cocktail to be the pisco sour.
The Trade Promotion Agreement between US and Peru received the name of "Pisco Peru". The Trade Promotion Agreement between US and Chile received the name of "Chilean pisco".
Pisco received its name from the town of Pisco, located on the coast of Peru. The origins of the word pisco can be traced to the Quechua language where the birds that inhabited the valleys of the Ica region were called pisqu (or any of: pisco, pisku, phishgo, pichiu, pisccu depending on the orthography). The origin of the city of Pisco is said to be from pre-Incan times when the area was ruled by people known as the Piskus. The importance of the city incremented under Spanish rule due to its proximity to the coast and its exportation of aguardiente from Ica, and in time these drinks would come to bear the name "Pisco."
|This article's section called "History" does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. (March 2009)|
In the late 1550s, the Spanish began to plant and harvest export quality grapes selected to produce wine with, while those that did not measure up were discarded or given to the farmers to do with as they pleased. It is in this context that small groups began to use these grapes to distill a brandy-like liquor from the discarded grapes, using similar techniques to those used in Spain for the production of brandy.
The black grape taken to the Viceroyalty of Peru by the Spanish suffered due to its adaptation to soil and weather conditions, eventually stabilizing in a new variety named "Quebranta", purportedly named because the original grape was "broken" (Spanish quebrar), or tamed, for its new environment. Almost all early pisco was produced from this variety of grape. Others used any grape available at the time, however, since only the largest vineyards (and those with dedicated pisco distilleries) were able to produce exportable volume, Quebranta was the only variety exported, since it was the preferred grape for pisco production.
In 1613 a will of a resident of the of Ica —a town called Pisco in Viceroyalty of Peru, close to the Nazca lines - named by Pedro Manuel the Greek. In it he itemizes his worldly 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.
In 1641, wine imports from the Viceroyalty of Peru into Spain were banned, severely damaging the wine industry in the colony; only a few vineyards that had parallel wine and pisco operations survived this change. The market loss caused the huge surplus of grapes to be made into brandy. The concentration solely on pisco production, nearly eliminated wine production in Peru.
Pisco was considered a lesser beverage by the Spanish and not consumed by them unless they were poor or curious. Spaniards preferred the original liquor which is called Orujo and which they deemed to possess a better flavor. The liquor made in South America was not called Pisco for a long time, although it is reported the Spanish usually called it "aguardiente" (firewater), which was a generic name for any brandy type liquor.
The drink began to acquire consumers in the sailors that transported products between the colonies and Spain, who began to call it pisco, naming it after the port where it could be bought. The drink then became a favorite of sailors and workers who visited the port of Pisco. It was exalted for its strong taste and ability to quickly affect the consumer. As trade from Peru to the world grew, so did the popularity of pisco, until it almost equaled wine in quantity as an export.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, pisco was a mainstay on ocean-crossing vessels, drunk mostly by sailors, as officers usually drank whisky or other "finer" spirits. The main reasons for its heyday were the low price and high availability. This position was maintained by pisco until the onset of rum, which won over consumers with lower prices and a softer flavor.
In the years following the re-establishment of pisco production, many grapes were used to produce pisco, leading to a wide variation in flavor, aroma, viscosity and appearance of the liquor. This harmed attempts to export the product under a single denomination since there could be enormous differences between the contents of bottles sold as pisco. As such, a number of regulations were established to counteract this situation and set a baseline for a product to carry the name.
Four levels of pisco were thus designated:
- Pure, made from a single variety of grape, mostly Quebranta, although Mollar or Common Black can be used; however, no blending between varieties is accepted ("pure" pisco should contain only one variety of grape).
- Aromatic, made from Muscat or Muscat-derived grape varieties, and also from Albilla, Italia and Torontel grape varieties; once again, the pisco should only contain one variety of grape in any production lot.
- Mosto Verde (Green Must), distilled from partially fermented must, this must be distilled before the fermentation process has completely transformed sugars into alcohol.
- Acholado (Half-breed), blended from the must of several varieties of grape.
The order is not established on quality, it is simply listed in that way in Peruvian publications.
Some other specific restrictions of note are:
- Aging: pisco must be aged for a minimum of three months in vessels of "glass, stainless steel or any other material which does not alter its physical, chemical or organic properties".
- Additives: no additives of any kind may be added to the pisco that could alter its flavor, odor, appearance or alcoholic proof.
Pure pisco is a very viscous liquid, slightly more so than vodka and comparable to sambuca in its consistency. It has an odor which is vaguely reminiscent of reeds. Some people consider it "heresy" to mix pure pisco with anything else, and it is generally accepted that it should be drunk alone, even to the exclusion of ice.
Aromatic pisco can be found in regions such as Ica.
Pisco (and wine) is often stored in traditional clay vessels called 'tirajas'. At some tasting houses in the Ica region, pisco is served using a long, hollow, bamboo stick, which is dipped into the tirajas' narrow necks.
Green Must is generally seen in high income environments. Its grape taste is very strong, as is its fruity perfume.
Acholado is gaining popularity due to its sweetness, both in odor and flavor, making it a favorite for Pisco sour, a mixed drink. The acholado variety is also preferred due to its "kick", which can be felt immediately after drinking.
After the harvest comes the 'pisa' or crushing, where the must or juice is extracted. Traditionally the crushing was done by the vineyard’s workers to the rhythm of local music and chants of the region. Today the stomping is done symbolically at a ceremony at the opening of the harvest festivities, by local beauties and elected at the beginning of the 'Fiesta de la Vendimia' or Harvest celebration. In Perú the most important of these celebration is held in the department of Ica, 320km to the south of Lima.
Water pollution from mining threatens grape harvests. The water intended for irrigating and cultivating the vineyards is loaded with mining residue and chemicals. Water purification is necessary for the survival of the vineyards. Air pollution must be dealt with immediately because of the threat to the health and safety of local residents and workers. The dry air of the Ica region is immobile because of the sea and the Andes mountain range. Eliminating river pollution as a result of mining is imperative. "Because of the dry arid climate, chemicals are absorbed into the local atmosphere and remain in the area".
During the adaptation of many vineyards to pisco production, the most widespread grape was used as raw material, namely the Muscat, with some vineyards preferring the Torontel and Pedro Jiménez varieties. As is the case with Peru, regulations for pisco designations have been enacted in Chile:
- Regular, 30% to 35% (60 to 70 proof).
- Special, 35% to 40% (70 to 80 proof).
- Reserve, 40% to 43% (80 to 86 proof).
- Great, 43% or more (86 or more proof).
No distinction between varietal mixes is made other than it is restricted to the three kinds of grapes named above.
Regular pisco is quite bland in taste, reminiscent of a weak rum, and its odor is very sweet and woody with a slight yellowish tinge to the color.
Special and reserve are very similar in flavor and color, both being very sweet and of a cloudy yellowish color. The flavor is much stronger than regular pisco and leaves an alcoholic aftertaste in the mouth, similar to bourbon.
Great pisco has a commanding odor and a very pleasant dark yellow color, it is not as sweet as the other varieties, yet it carries strong woody flavor the others lack.
The yellowish to amber color in Chilean pisco is due to the wood aging process, with the darker colors being a telltale sign that they have been aged longer. Not all Chilean pisco is tinged, and the more mass-marketed brands can be clear.
Chile has taken further steps to have a clean and environmentally friendly production of pisco. In order to crack down on pollution, and to increase competitiveness, the National Council for Clean Production agreed with the pisco producers and pisco grape agronomists, to collaborate, signing an Agreement of Clean Production (APL). Capel, by itself invested more than US$800 million.
|Definition||Liquor obtained exclusively from the distillation of recently fermented "pisco grapes", using methods which maintain the traditional principles of quality established in recognized production areas.||...is reserved to liquor produced and bottled, in consumable quantities, in Regions III and IV, elaborated by the distillation of genuine wine, originating from specified varietals, grown in said regions.|
|Grapes|| Non Aromatic: Quebranta, Common Black, Mollar, Uvina
Aromatic: Italia, Muscat, Albilla, Torontel.
|Yellow Muscat, White Early Muscat, Alexandria Muscat, Austrian Muscat, Frontignan Muscat, Hamburg Muscat, Black Muscat, Pink Muscat, Canelli Muscat, Orange Muscat, Pedro Jiménez , Torontel.|
|Production||The fermentation process can be done with partial or total maceration of the grape, strictly controlling the temperature and decomposition of sugars.||The grape juice is fermented into wine containing 14% alcohol (28 proof).|
|The fermented product is distilled in copper or stainless steel vessels to the desired alcoholic proof. No product may be added to alter the alcoholic proof, odor, flavor or color of the liquid.||The fermented product is distilled in copper vessels until an alcoholic proof of 55° to 60° is reached. Rectifiers must be added if the alcoholic proof is less than that specified.|
|The pisco must be aged a minimum of three months in glass, stainless steel or other materials which do not alter the physical, chemical or organic properties before bottling.||The crude liquor is aged in wood for a short time, usually not more than a few months. Higher quality brands may be aged in oak barrels for a longer time.|
|The pisco must be bottled directly after aging, without alteration or adding any product which could alter the odor, flavor or appearance.||The liquor from different distilleries is mixed, diluted with demineralized water in order to lower the alcoholic proof to the desired level, filtered and bottled.|
|Alcohol Content|| |
38° to 48° (76 to 96 proof)
30° to 50° (60 to 100 proof)
|Designated Pisco Areas||Departments of Lima, Ica (Ica, Chincha, Pisco), Arequipa, Moquegua and the Locumba, Sama and Caplina valleys in the Department of Tacna.||Atacama, Coquimbo.|
There is a long-standing debate in Peru and Chile as to the rightful owner of the "pisco" denomination.
Both nations have established decrees, laws, regulations, treaties, etc. in order to protect their pisco product as the canonical pisco, though their efforts have been markedly opposite. On the one hand, Chile has concentrated on internal regulations, specifying from what a "pisco grape" is to what a "pisco bottle" is, in order to establish standardization among its products. This way, Chile started to trade and promote its product as Pisco. On the other hand, Peru has concentrated more in the artesanal and traditional production, started to focus on the international arena claiming for an Origin Denomination arguing that only Peruvian Pisco can be called Pisco and Chilean product is another type of spirit.
Peru claims proprietorship on the basis of historical arguments, mainly that pisco originated in Peru and is still made in the traditional way only in Peru, where their regulations ensure this. In Peru this topic has a high political significance, associated to the defense of the fatherland and Peruvian roots. Arguments of utilization, usurpation and bad practices from the Chilean side are frequently mentioned in the Peruvian reasoning.
- 1932: Supreme Resolution N° 52, restricted the use of the designation "grape based brandy".
- 1931: Made it compulsory to serve Peruvian wines and liquors in official acts held in the Government House.
- 1940: Ministerial Resolution, prohibited the admission of cane brandy to the viticulture area of pisco.
- 1941: Supreme Resolution N° 151, stipulated the restricted use of grape brandy and cognac.
- 1946: Supreme Resolution N° 1207, defined the designations of pisco, grape based aguardiente and others.
- 1947: Ministerial Resolution, ratified the prohibitions regarding the use of sugar in manufacturing molasses, spirits, brandy and wine.
- 1950: Director’s Resolution N° 13, pointed out the date and terms for distillation of musts, watery wines and for washing spirits in the preparation process of grape based brandy.
- 1963: Sanitary Code of Foods in which "pisco" was defined as the product obtained from the distillation of fermented grape musts.
- 1963: Law N° 14729, established a 4% tax rate upon the gross trade value of alcoholic beverages in Peru, exempting pisco. This measure was taken as a means of fostering its preparation. This law stipulated that this tax affected cane brandies, wine, spirits, beers and any kind of alcoholic beverage and similar, exempting Peruvian grape based pisco and wine.
- 1964: Supreme Resolution N° 519-H, established the use of visible signs that make it easy for payment of taxes on the sale of alcoholic beverages.
- 1988: Resolution No. 179, issued by the National Institute of Culture where the word "pisco" was declared National Cultural Heritage.
- 1990: Supreme Decree N° 023-90, stipulated that denominations of origin should be recognized by ITINTEC, thus including the above-mentioned principle in Peruvian law.
- 1990: Director’s Resolution N° 072087-DIPI, issued by the Industrial Property Bureau, stated that the designation of "pisco" has a Peruvian origin and refers to products resulting from the distillation of wines derived from the fermentation of fresh grapes in the coastline of the Lima, Ica, Arequipa, and Moquegua departments, and the valleys of Locumba, Sama and Caplina in the Tacna Department.
- 1991: Supreme Decree N° 001-91-ICTI/IND, officially recognized "pisco" as a denomination of Peruvian origin for products obtained by distillation of wine derived from the fermentation of fresh grapes in the coastline of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and the valleys of Locumba, Sama and Caplina in the department of Tacna.
- 1995: Law N° 26426, regulated the production and commercialization of national alcoholic beverages.
- 2001: Supreme Resolution Nº 247-2001-Itinci, established the Multisectorial Committee in charge of preparing a regulatory proposal corresponding to the creation of Ruling Councils and the Ruling Council of the Denomination of Origin Pisco.
- Bolivia: Resolution Nº OPIB/D.O/01/98 from the Intellectual Property Bureau of Bolivia dated January 5, 1998.
- Ecuador: Resolution Nº 0962384 of the Industrial Property National Bureau, published in January 15, 1998.
- Colombia: Resolution No. 01529 of the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce of Colombia dated February 1, 1999.
- Venezuela: Resolution Nº 0345 of the Autonomous Service of Intellectual Property published in the Bulletin of Industrial Property of Venezuela dated May 8, 1998.
- Panama: Decree Nº 1628 of the General Bureau of Registry of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry by which Resolution No. 8871 No. 8871 dated July 27, 1999 is issued.
- Guatemala: Final Resolutions of files 2801-97 and 2802-97 of the Registry of Intellectual Property dated June 12, 1998.
- Nicaragua: Resolution No. 2911435 of the Ministry of Promotion, Industry and Commerce dated September 1, 1999.
- Costa Rica: Registry No 114662 of the Registry of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Justice and Grace dated July 2. 1999.
- Cuba: Agreement entered between the Government of the Republic of Peru and the Republic of Cuba regarding the mutual recognition of protection of their denominations of origin dated October 10, 2000.
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)received an application for international registration of an appellation of origin "pisco" like a beverage of Peruvian origin (Registry 065, July 2005). Such recognition applies to all states signing the Lisbon Treaty, but the member States have the right, within a period of one year from the date of receipt by that country of the notification, to issue a refusal of protection in relation to the appellation of origin in question (see further at Lisbon System for the International Registration of Appellations of Origin (WIPO)) Officially refused by France, Italy, Mexico, Costa Rica, Portugal, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Application remained unanswered by rest of members of the Lisbon System, those being Burkina Faso, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Haiti, Serbia and Montenegro, Congo, Algeria, Gabon, Georgia, Nicaragua, Tunisia, Israel, Togo and Moldavia. From the 26 member states of the WIPO, nine refused the Peruvian claim, and the rest haven't replied to Lima's request. The WIPO, nevertheless, has not recognized the denomination "Pisco" as Peruvian, because such recognition is not part of its attributes.
Chile has proposed to Peru that the countries join forces to market pisco internationally. Chilean Foreign Minister, Alejandro Foxley has declared that "What's best for Peru and Chile is to share the denomination and even to jointly market the product in international markets, but they (Peru) still maintain their position as a competitor and are disputing the trade name."
The traditional Chilean policy regarding pisco is that this term is a common appellation of Chile and Peru and, consequently, both countries have the right to use it to identify its spirits. This policy has been reflected in every free trade agreement signed by Chile, where the door has always been left open for a similar recognition of Peru's geographical indication. In sum, Chile does not oppose to the recognition of the appellation "Pisco" to Peru, provided that these recognitions do not prejudice Chilean rights over this term.
The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) provides in Articles 22 and 23 for the coexistence of homonymous appellations for wines and spirits, but the Lisbon Agreement does not provide for the coexistence or the prevalence of pre-existing rights. At the same time, in the nineties, the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) declared that "Pisco" was a common appellation of Chile and Peru, and called on both countries to work together in order to improve its international furtherance and commercialisation, and to avoid unfair uses of this appellation by third countries.
- 1873 National decree, which opened a register to track national producers and trademarks for pisco.
- 1916 - 1954: Chilean pisco was exempted from all taxes imposed on alcoholic beverages.
- 1931: Law Decree 181 defined pisco as distilled wine brandy produced in Regions III & IV
- 1936: Law Decree 5.798 changed the name of "La Unión" to "Pisco Elqui" to associate it with pisco production.
- 1954 - 1974: Chilean pisco was taxed at 50% the rate for all alcoholic beverages.
- 1974: Law Decree 826 established a 40% tax on local alcoholic beverages and a 90% tax on all imported alcoholic beverages.
- 1977; Law Decree 2.057 reduced the tax on pisco to 25% and to 30% for all other alcoholic beverages.
- 1983: Tax on non-pisco alcoholic beverages was increased to 50%
- 1984: Tax on whisky increased to 55%, all other alcoholic beverages except pisco lowered to 30%, pisco remained at 25%
- 1985: Law Decree 18.455 established "pisco" as reserved to firewater produced and bottled, in consumable quantities, in Regions III and IV, elaborated by the distillation of genuine wine, originating from specified varietals, grown in said regions.
- 1986: Supreme Decree 78 established allowed additives, grape varieties and zones for production of firewater to be named "pisco". It also designated the different varieties of pisco according to alcoholic proof. This also established that the 'only' difference between the varieties is the alcohol content.
- 1997: Law Decree 19.534 established pisco tax at 25%, whisky at 70% and all other alcoholic beverages at 30%, imported alcoholic beverages add a 50% tax.
- 1998: Created a de facto monopoly by fusing the two largest pisco manufacturers, whose combined market share was 98%.
- 1996: trade agreement with Canada regarding recognition "Chilean pisco" as a geographical indication of Chile. In 2001, the Ministry of Industry "proposes that the following geographical indications be entered on the list of geographical indications kept pursuant to subsection: Chilean Pisco (A spirituous liquor originating from distilled grape juice.)The land comprising the valleys of the Third and Fourth Regions of Chile stretching from Parallel 32° to the North approximately to Parallel 27° South, being more specifically the valleys of the rivers Elqui, Limari, Huasco, Copiapó and Choapa.
- 1998: trade agreement with Mexico regarding recognition "Pisco" as a designation of origin of Chile, without prejudice to denominating any product from Peru as "pisco". Art. 15-23 of the Agreement.
- 2002: association agreement with European Union introduced text regarding recognition "Pisco" as a product of Chile, without prejudice to denominating any product from Peru as "Pisco". In 2006 EU protected Chilean recognition only for importing this product from Chile. 
- 2003: trade agreements with U.S. regarding recognition "Chilean pisco" as a distinctive product.
- 2003: trade agreements with Korea regarding recognition "Pisco" as a designation of origin of Chile, without prejudice to denominating any product from Peru as "pisco".
- 2005: P-4 agreement with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei regarding recognition "pisco" as a designation of origin of Chile. And "Chilean Pisco" as a product of Chile 
- 2005: trade agreements with People's Republic of China regarding recognition "Chilean pisco" as a geographical indication of Chile.
- 2007: strategic economic agreements with Japan regarding recognition "Chilean pisco" as a geographical indication of Chile.
- 2008: Australia - Chile Free Trade Agreement, regarding recognition of "Chilean pisco" as a product manufactured exclusively in Chile
Some of the most popular cocktails with pisco include:
- Pisco Sour with egg white, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters
- Algarrobina Pisco with Algarrobina syrup, cinnamon, egg yolk, and cream. (Carob syrup can be substituted for algarrobina syrup, but the taste is slightly different)
Some of the most popular mixed drinks with pisco include:
- Chilcano de Pisco, a cocktail made with Peruvian Pisco, lemon juice, and ginger ale.
- Piscola, also called "national cocktail" (Spanish: Combinado nacional or combinado) a cocktail prepared mixing Coca-Cola and Pisco.
- Tiger tail: a variant from Piscola. First serve the Coca-Cola, then place a fabric napkin on the top of the glass and serve slowly the Pisco through it.
- Pisco Collins
- Perú Libre, a cocktail prepared by mixing Peruvian Pisco with Coke. Also known as "Sol y Sombra" (Sun and Shadow).
- Serena Libre, a cocktail prepared by mixing Chilean Pisco with papaya juice.
- ↑ "Pisco". gosouthamerica.about.com. http://gosouthamerica.about.com/cs/southamerica/a/CulPisco.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-20.
- ↑ Template:Esp icon"Historia del Pisco". pempus.com. http://www.pempus.com/weblicores/historiadelpisco.html. Retrieved 2007-08-20.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "Pisco." The Oxford English Dictionary. second ed. 1989.
- ↑ http://www.conapisco.org.pe/pdfs/norma2006.pdf
- ↑ http://www.livinginperu.com/gastronomy/features-164
- ↑ http://www.livinginperu.com/gastronomy/features-164
- ↑ http://www.american.edu/TED/pisco.htm
- ↑ Economía y Negocios Online
- ↑ http://uk.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUKN1430892120071214?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true
- ↑ Screen
- ↑ http://gazetteducanada.gc.ca/partI/2002/20020810/html/notice-e.html
- ↑ Italy 865
- ↑ SICE- Free Trade Agreement between Chile and the United States of America
- ↑ Tratado De Libre Comercio
- ↑ Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (Trans-Pacific SEP) Agreement among Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore
- ↑ Acuerdo Estratégico Transpacífico de Asociación Económica, Artículo 18.5: Productos Distintivos.
- ↑ http://www.sthlmconsulado.com/chilenews/ChileNews%20No%2077.pdf
- ↑ Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement, Article 3.12: Treatment of Certain Spirits.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: pisco|
- Defense of the Peruvian denomination of origin, Embassy of Peru (.pdf)
- Pisco Liquor Dispute between Chile and Peru
- Pisco Liquor in UK
- Pisco Online Store
- Pisco en Peru
- Pisco information, Peru
- Pisco: Cultural Heritage of Peru. First part.7:39 minutes at YouTube Covering the history of the brandy, the history of the name "pisco", and the tourist circuits of pisco in Peru.
- Pisco: Cultural Heritage of Peru. Second part. 5:17 minutes at YouTube Covering the bar and kitchen uses of pisco, the history of pisco sour, the pisco role in the Peruvian cuisine, and the cultural heritage it represents to Peru.
- The new pisco glass by Riedel Glass at YouTube A news report on the Peruvian campaign launching a new glass design by the famous Austrian company. (In Spanish)
- How to make a piscola Video at YouTube Piscola, how to make traditional Pisco and Cola mixed drink, consumed by Chileans.