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By Michael Hepworth

I know very little about this spirit from Peru, but the people behind it seem very nice and it is really a labor of love to spread the word about it in the USA.  The spirit is also very nice, although maybe a little too strong to drink neat, and lot more acceptable to use in a cocktail. However I was assured that you will never experience a hangover after drinking this stuff, and after trying a few fruity style cocktails at a recent tasting in Santa Monica with the San Francisco folks from Campo De Escanto I am more than happy to spread the word.

Today the grapes used to produce Pisco are the same used in the production of sherry in Jerez and these include Quebranta, the most planted vine in Peru and Palomino Negro, the first grape of sherry. In 1641 Spain banned the production and exportation of wine from Peru into the colonies, so some distillers decided to specialize in producing Aguardiente de Uva. The hub where all this took place was the Valley of Ica which happens to be just east of the Port of Pisco.

Similar to tequila there are strict rules governing the production of Pisco in Peru, and here is an abbreviated breakdown: 1) It must be produced with five states/regions using only designated grapes-those not already mentioned are Mollar, Negro Corriente, Uvina, Albilla, Italia, Torontel & Moscatel. 2) Every harvest is by hand, crushed and used only once. 3) The fermentation process must begin with a natural-derived yeast. 4) After completion, Pisco must be distilled only once in a copper alembic pot still. 5) Resting time is three months before bottling  6) Must be bottled at 38* to 48* ABV and no water or any other finishing agents can be added.

Pisco is now finally making a comeback in popularity in the United States and in 2011 sales grew 211% after a severe decline in the twentieth century due to wars and prohibition.

Cocktail recipes w/Pisco

FOGCUTTER : 1 oz Encanto, 2 oz Gold Rum, 2 oz Lemon Juice, 1 oz Orange Juice, 0.5 oz Gin, 0.5 oz Cream Sherry, 0.5 oz Almond Syrup. SHAKE then strain into tall glass filled w/ice, garnish w/fresh Fruit and watch out.

CUSCO MULE : Build in a tall glass. GINGER LOVERS ONLY 2 oz Encanto, 0.75 oz Lime Juice, 0.5 oz Ginger Syrup, STIR then add 1.5 oz Ginger Beer. Fill glass w/ice, garnish w/diced ginger.

Website: www.encantopisco.com



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