Monday, 1 July 2013

Taking the Pisco

Okay, hands up who's even heard of pisco? Right, now those excellent ones among you that do have your hands up, only keep your hands up if you've actually tried it. Anyone with their hands still up, you are officially my favourites.

The problem is there's not enough of you. Too many booze fans will not have sampled the delight that is pisco, and I think it's the sort of thing that should be at home in any decent drinks cabinet.

So what is it? Here's a quick rundown:

Pisco: a grape brandy/liqueur.
Where from? Officially Peru, but also made a lot in winemaking areas of Chile.
Alcohol: Around 40%
Price Range: From around £15 - 40 a bottle
What's it made with? Distilled grapes, but several grape varieties are used:
If the label says 'aromatic', or if it's from Chile, it's probably mostly muscat - that's the grapey-tasting grape used to make lots of wines, including Moscato.
If the label says 'pure' or 'Quebrante', it's made with the quebrante grape, so is smoother and subtler (and also deceptively non-alcoholic tasting, so beware!).
What do you use it for? Cheaper versions love a tangy, fruity cocktail, more premium 'pure' pisco is best drunk neat.
Anything else I should bear in mind?
Peruvian pisco has stricter label classifications, and will only ever be made of a single grape variety.
Chilean pisco doesn't have these classifications which can make the labels a bit vaguer, and can be a blend of grapes (majority will still probably be muscat).

Just like triple sec, kahlua, galliano, creme de cassis, and all those other bottles we only ever use in cocktails, pisco is well worthy of a place on your shelf. It's gaining huge amounts of popularity at the moment - it's quite the 'in' drink to try - so it's probably about time I told you where you can grab a ton of the stuff:

Your starter pisco should almost definitely be ABA pisco from The Drink Shop for £14.64 a bottle. It's the cheapest one on the UK market, and is a nice, generic, Chilean muscat pisco that will make a mean cocktail.

It's also actually on offer at the moment down from £15.78, and we're going to be showing you how to use this on Friday in our Friday Cocktail post, so grab a bottle quick!
I'd also highly recommend Barsol Primera Quebrante Pisco (£26.35 from The Whisky Exchange) - a Peruvian 'pure' pisco that will really show you what its made of.

There are several other varieties of pisco available on The Whisky Exchange too. I'm eager to give Pisco Capel Reservado (£29.15, pictured above) a try purely because the bottle is modelled on Moai statue from Easter Island.

Have you ever tried Pisco? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

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