Pisco - Wine & Spirits Magazine


            Barsol     $37.00     Puro Torontel
Founder and Master Distiller Diego Loret de Mola works with torontel wine from the southern valley of Ica to create this Puro Pisco. Extremely aromatic with white flowers, jasmine and lemongrass scents over ripe peach and dried apricot flavors, it’s a sensuous Pisco. Energetic and summery, this would be great mixed with soda or tonic, served over ice with a twist of lemon. Hotaling & Co., San Francisco, CA

            Demonio de los Andes     $35.00     Pisco Albilla
One of the earliest grapes to arrive in Peru from Spain, Albilla has been genetically identified as Listán Blanco from the Canary Islands, (in Andalucia, it is called Palomino Fino). This Pisco carries subtle aromas of mango, limeade and white grape juice. On the palate the mango fruit persists along with a pleasant candied-sugar quality reminiscent of agave. It feels warm, tropical and lush, with a smooth, long finish. Enjoy it like a Tequila: over a large cube of ice with a twist of lime. Ebros Import Corp., Valley Stream, NY

            Tierra Nueva     $35.00     Pisco Uvina
Uvina is a non-aromatic grape variety; this one is from Lunahuaná, a small town in the Cañete Province of Peru. Clean and fresh, it has a salinity accompanied by cucumber and mint. It’s well balanced with a touch of white pepper spice on the finish. Confident and unassuming, it makes a crisp Pisco Sour. Tierra Nueva, Lunahuaná, Peru

            Logía     $55.00     Pisco Puro Mollar
Mollar, known as negramoll in the Canary Islands, is a red-skinned grape variety allowed in Pisco production, and this one is a showstopper. This is pressed, vinified and distilled by distiller Nati Gordillo, based in Azpitia, Peru. Distinctly red-fruited, it has scents of red currant, cranberry and spice—71 Above’s India Mandlekern called it “Christmassy.” There is a touch of cocoa on the palate mingling with fresh honeydew melon. The body is full and savory while maintaining a lifted energy; one of the most complex Piscos of the tasting. Topa Spirits, LLC, Spokane, WA

            Viñas de Oro     $43.00     Pisco Puro Quebranta
Located 133 miles south of Lima, in El Carmen, Chincha en Ica, Viñas de Oro farms close to 2,000 acres of six pisco grapes. Quebranta, considered a non-aromatic variety, is used most often for Peru’s signature drink, the pisco sour. But in our tastings, Viñas de Oro Pisco Puro Quebranta proved to be anything but ordinary. Bright, fresh and complex, the body is silky-smooth and pillowy while flavors of lime and red currant meld with the scent of a sea breeze, lingering in the end. Preiss Imports, Ramona, CA

            Viñas de Oro     $43.00     Pisco Puro Italia
This springs from the glass with the scents of a summer garden: Rose petals, orange and cherry blossoms mingle with exotic litchi and black pepper—a gewürztraminer-lover’s Pisco. The body is pillowy and lifted, great for a floral Pisco Sour. It can also be mixed with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and mint for a twist on a mojito. Preiss Imports, Ramona, CA

            Barsol     $27.00     Puro Quebranta
Full of blueberry, violet and sugar plum flavors, this Pisco is concentrated and flavorful. It may not be as spritely or racy as other examples of quebranta in our tastings, but it has an interesting complexity—smoked black licorice meeting grape bubblegum in the best way. Hotaling & Co., San Francisco, CA

            Capurro     $36.00     Pisco Quebranta
The Capurro family has been farming for over 100 years through five generations. They work without chemicals, using organic and biodynamic practices, hand harvesting their grapes and fermenting them without additions. This Quebranta is a clean, distinctly spicy Pisco with cracked black pepper leading the charge. Its undertones of jasmine and orange oil are carried by a spritely, youthful energy. Romina Foods, San Mateo, CA

            Logía     $55.00     Pisco Puro Torontel
Master distiller and blender Nati Gordillo worked with her husband to transform a small, sandy plot of land on the hills of Azpitia in Peru’s Mala Valley into a Pisco vineyard. This torontel is bright and energetic, its flavors of tropical mango peel finishing with a savory salinity. While aromatic, it feels balanced, sprightly and springy on the tongue. Topa Spirits, LLC, Spokane, WA

            Pisco Ku     $40.00     Quebranta
Pisco Ku is 133 miles south of Lima, in the district of El Carmen, Chincha in Ica. The property has just under 200 acres dedicated to six different Pisco grapes. Their quebranta smells sweet on the nose, full of orange blossom, green apple and almond skins. It’s powdery soft and elegant in the mouth, the sweet almond flavor carrying through to the finish. Preiss Imports, Ramona, CA

            Suyo Pisco     $60.00     Italia Single Origin No. 2
Made from the aromatic italia grape, this Pisco has some floral qualities—vanilla blossom and juniper—but leads with rosemary, spearmint and green bell pepper. Danielle Motor of Sunset Boulevardier said, “its herbaceous nature makes it a great gin alternative.” It has a zippy energy and finishes with lemon and lime citrus for a pop of brightness. Unidos Imports, LLC, Orlando, FL

            Viñas de Oro     $43.00     Pisco Puro Torontel
Full of floral white musk and dried potpourri on the nose, this Pisco feels light and lifted in its flavors of orange peel and green pear. Mixologist Danielle Motor of Sunset Boulevardier said it reminded her of Poire Williams; she would mix it with grapefruit juice for a twist on a Greyhound cocktail or use it in a spritz with Dolin Blanc vermouth. Preiss Imports, Ramona, CA

            Viñas de Oro     $43.00     Pisco Puro Negra Criolla
This pisco, made from red-skinned negra criolla, is bursting with bright cherry, red apple blossom and violet florals. It has an undercurrent of spice, like the kind found in mulled wine, and the fruit goes from fresh to stewed on the palate. One taster called it a “winter pisco” because of these flavors, but there’s a tension between fresh and stewed that creates exciting energy. Preiss Imports, Ramona, CA

            Caravedo Pisco     $40.00     Torontel
Full of florals, from iris and dried roses, this Pisco has a savory quality of rhubarb root and white pepper, carrying through on the long finish. Torontel is a different grape variety than torrontes in Argentina, yet it has a similar “grandma’s perfume” quality that makes you wonder if the two were related. This one maintains a cool, airy freshness, like sea breeze. Pisco Portón, Houston, TX

            Logía     $45.00     Pisco Puro Italia
Pisco Logía offers select bottlings that highlight growers and producers throughout Peru. This small-batch Pisco, from the vineyards of Alfredo Paino in the Mala Valley, is distilled by Hugo Chumpitaz at the Monte Carmelo bodega in Azpitia, Peru. The spirit greets you with scents of yellow roses and Meyer lemon and carries a weighty viscosity, lush and round in the mouth, like lemon cake sprinkled with powdered sugar. Try it in a Pisco Sour with lemon juice rather than lime. Topa Spirits, LLC, Spokane, WA

            Viñas de Oro     $43.00     Pisco Puro Moscatel
This feels warm and rich with hints of orange oil and lemon. There is a whisper of honeysuckle, white grape and pear but it’s relatively neutral for a Pisco from an aromatic grape variety. Still, the body is crisp and delicate—its smooth, neutral quality makes it great for a pisco sour or cocktail mixer. Preiss Imports, Ramona, CA
            Viñas de Oro     $43.00     Pisco Acholado
Acholado means blend; this is 50 percent quebranta and 50 percent italia, creating a seamless balance between the aromatic and non-aromatic varieties. This Pisco’s delicate perfume of sweet mango and hibiscus bounds from the glass, providing satisfaction in the scent alone. The palate oscillates between bright yellow rose and earthy tree bark, heading into springy salinity balancing coriander spice. This is an elevated pisco with gorgeous tension and a silky-smooth finish. Preiss Imports, Ramona, CA

            Capurro     $36.00     Capurro Pisco Acholado
This blend is a Capurro family secret recipe—they pot distill each grape individually before blending them together to create balance between aromatics and texture. It intrigues with its pillowy mouthfeel and complex flavors—cocoa nibs, candied pear and fresh cut grass. It’s savory and a little bit smoky sweet, like BBQ-roasted summer peaches.  Romina Foods, San Mateo, CA
            Barsol     $42.00     Mosto Verde Italia
Mosto Verde is made from musts that aren’t fully fermented, often resulting in more aromatic Piscos emphasizing a silky texture. This spritely Pisco is full of coriander, gentian root, spearmint and green bell pepper. It glides through the mouth effortlessly, finishing with green melon and honey. Elegant enough to sip on its own, it could also make a great Martini. Hotaling & Co., San Francisco, CA

            Caravedo Pisco     $50.00     Mosto Verde
Established in 1684, Caravedo is the oldest distillery in Peru, located in the Ica Valley. This Mosto Verde is their flagship Pisco, a blend of quebranta, torontel, italia and albilla, distilled in small batches before blending. It’s almost effervescent on the palate, where lifted notes of fresh cucumber play with sweet lemon citrus. Crisp, clean and effortlessly balanced. Pisco Portón, Houston, TX

Based in Los Angeles, California, Alissa Bica is the Associate Editor at Wine & Spirits. She is also a sommelier at 71 Above and co-runs the home wine tasting company, Côte Brune and Blonde. In any rare moments of free time, she writes about obscure grape varieties in the blog Off the Beaten Wine Path.

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