We just got back from Peru visiting with Johnny Schuler and Brent Kallop of Pisco Porton. They are on a mission to make Pisco a significant category and Pisco Porton a significant brand in the U.S. spirits market.
For those of you unfamiliar with it Pisco has a long history…it’s the oldest spirit in the Americas dating back to the days of the Conquistadors and the missionaries who accompanied them. Pisco was a major spirit category in the US and was the base spirit for a number of the most popular cocktails including the Pisco Sour and the Pisco Punch prior to Prohibition.
(l to r) Steve Raye, Sue Ritter, Brent Kallop, Johnny Schuler, Jeff Grindrod
Pisco is the native spirit of Peru, where it is traditionally distilled in alembic or pot stills which allows the master distiller to create a product with a very individual style. Chile also produces a product they call Pisco, but generally at lower prices, lower quality and via a continuous still process. Peru’s claim of Pisco’s authenticity rests on the eponymous name of the town where it was born and the long history of production and association of the name Pisco with the vessels in which it was traditionally transported…also called Piscos.
Most of the Pisco produced in Peru come from the Ica Valley, an emerging region with aspirations of becoming Peru’s Napa Valley. Ica and in fact the town of Pisco itself, was the epicenter of an earthquake two years ago which caused widespread destruction of the region where many of the buildings are made of adobe.
Peru has emerged from a dark period of bad government decisions and the breakup of large landholdings. It’s only recently that larger farm operations have become possible and the country is really just re-emerging on the world stage. It is not uncommon to still see donkeys pulling carts beside signs for the local John Deere dealer.
More to come on this subject…but I thought you’d enjoy seeing some of the pix from the trip. In addition to visiting the vineyards and distilleries, we also got a chance to fly over the Nazca lines and wonder just why they were made.
Nazca lines “astronaut” Tasting Pisco Porton from the resting tank
Below, the Hacienda la Caravedo vineyards with the Andes in the background. It’s not uncommon to see donkeys, and bottom right kiln from the 1600’s used to fire the “botijas”or Piscos in which the spirit was transported.