In a world where there seem to be endless variations on vodka, gin and flavored rum; it is exceptionally refreshing to find a white spirit that is truly unique in both taste and heritage. That spirit is pisco.
Created in Peru about 300 years ago, pisco is distilled from grapes. Much like tequila and Champagne, there are certain regulations that must be met in order to be called Peruvian pisco. It can be made from one to eight Peruvian grape varietals. It also has to be distilled to proof with no water, flavoring, wood aging or additives. Pretty strict rules, and therein lies the beauty of true Peruvian pisco. If you see a bottle of pisco on your local liquor stores’ shelf that says it’s from Chili, you’re not getting the real thing. Chilean standards for pisco are much lower and the end product is vastly inferior.
Now it’s time for a little lesson on the styles of pisco. There are three categories – puro, acholado and mosto verde. Puro is made from a single varietal, acholado is a blend of two to eight grapes and mosto verde is the most interesting style, as it made from grape juice that has not entirely fermented. This keeps some of the sugars from converting into alcohol, and adds extra flavor and aroma. Portón uses only three grape varietals (Quebranta, Albilla and Torontel) and after distillation they rest the spirit for five to eight months in huge cement vaults called “cubas de guardia” to let the flavors develop.
Pisco Portón is made at the oldest distillery in the Americas at Hacienda La Caravedo in Ica, Peru built in 1684.
Pisco Portón (86 proof)
Visual: Perfectly clear.
Nose: A slight muskiness reminiscent of white dog whiskey. Very floral with overt grape characteristics.
Taste: Quite refreshing and bright with an elegant and yet predominant grape note. Lots of spice and stone fruit.
Finish: Crisp and with a notable amount of spice. It goes on to be quite dry and subtle.
Overall: One of the best distilled piscos I’ve ever had. Highly recommended for pisco punch and the pisco sour, but also great on it’s own.
GSN Rating: A+