(Text source: Peruvian Embassy, Australia: (http://www.embaperu.org.au/embassy/pisco.html)
Pisco is the name by which a valley (and a port-city) in southern Peru have long been known . This area is also known for its great variety of bird species, including the
Andean Flamingo, the Peruvian Thick-knee, the Inca Tern, and the majestic Andean Condor. In fact, the word “pisco” is derived from the Quechua term “pisscu”, which means “little bird”.
The early inhabitants of this zone were potters, justly famous as the creators of the earthen jars that have been used since pre-Hispanic times for the fermentation of “chicha”, a corn-based liquor of great importance in Andean rituals. This town of master ceramicists was called “Piskos”, an over time the name was applied to their earthenware as well.
Soon after the arrival of the Spaniards, the sunny, fertile lands of Ica were planted with grapevines brought from the Canary Islands. This experiment met with great success: by the middle of the Sixteenth Century, the vines were producing excellence wines, as well as an outstanding brandy that was stored in old earthen pots or “piscos”.
Little by little tradition transferred the name from the pots to the brandy itself, and pisco became more and more renowned in Peru and neighbouring lands. The old village and the bay from which pisco was first shipped was given the same name: Pisco.
With its inimitable fragrance, pisco is the delicious result of the confluence of European grapevines, the sun-kissed lands of the southern Peruvian Coast, and the wisdom and experience of the potters who first created the earthen jars in which this exquisite drink aged.
The best pisco is distinguished from all other drinks bearing the name by the way in which it is made throughout the fermentation and distillation processes, the fresh must is never watered down.
The average alcohol content of pisco is about forty-two degrees; its colour must be transparent, its flavour strong, and its odour lightly fragrant, never perfumed.
Each type of pisco has its own characteristic taste.
Pure pisco, the product of non-aromatic grapes such as Quebranta or Mollar, is rather mild.
Aromatic pisco requires the use of more fragrant grapes such as Moscate, Italia or Albilla, and as its name indicates, its aroma is exquisite.
A variety known as ‘pisco acholado’ is the result of mixing grapes from different types of vines, producing a stronger pisco.
‘Green Must” pisco is obtained by distilling the must before the fermentation process is complete.
Finally, aromatized pisco is made by adding other fruits such as lemons, mangos or figs to the distillation process, thereby producing a delicate, fruity taste.
The Secret of Craftsmanship
The ritual that is the preparation of pisco begins during the annual grape harvest. The bunches of grapes are carefully picked and taken to the press, where barefoot young man stomp the grapes amidst an atmosphere of great jubilation and joy..
…The juice runs from the tubs through a canal, and is collected in earthen pots where it is fermented for fourteen days. When the fermentation process is complete, the must is distilled in a classic liquor still, then returned to the pots to be aged until the precise moment for bottling arrives.
What it means to be Peruvian
Like many Peruvians traditions, pisco is a manifestation of our mixed inheritance, an example of Andean heritage influenced by Hispanic culture. This brandy, aged in earthen pots, has always been an expression of what it means to be Peruvian.
In the Eighteenth Century, Lopez de Carabantes described pisco as a worthy competitor of sherry, naming it one of the most exquisite drinks in the world. Even then it had been justly famous for years, its name identifying it unmistakable with the Peruvian coast. Thus it is that for centuries, pisco has conquered the taste buds of everyone who tastes it.
This delicate and tempting brandy can be drunk straight or as part of the ever popular cocktail, the Pisco Sour.
other sources on Pisco as Denomination of Origin: https://www.indecopi.gob.pe/web/signos-distintivos/-que-es-una-denominacion-de-origen-