Pisco is a brandy that is the national spirit of both Peru and Chile, and fierce debate over who has appellation of origin rights continues to this day. Although Peru claims pisco must come from Peru to be labeled as pisco, the world’s largest importers allow the Chilean version to be called pisco as well.
At least one thing is certain: pisco originated in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, which contained Peru, Chile, and much of South America at the time. In the 1500s, the Spanish planted grapevines in both Peru and Chile, creating a nascent wine industry. Many of the grapes were fermented into wine and then distilled into the type of brandy now called pisco. The word translates into “bird," “river”, "valley" and “clay pot”, but when translated to mean “liquor”, it likely derived from the port town of Pisco, Peru, that once exported viticultural products.
Pisco is most often made from muscat grapes distilled in copper pot stills, but a limited number of other grape varieties and production methods can be used. Depending on the ingredients and distillation method, the color will vary from clear to amber. Usually, pisco is bottled at distillation strength and then classified into four categories. Pisco Puro (pure pisco) is made from a single variety of nonaromatic grape. Pisco Aromático (aromatic pisco) is made from a single variety of aromatic grape such as Muscat. Pisco Mosto Verde (green must pisco) is made from partially fermented grapes. Lastly, Pisco Acholado (multivarietal pisco) is blended from multiple grape varieties.
HOW TO DRINK PISCO:
Use Pisco puro or acholado if you want to make a Pisco Sour(link). Pisco can also be enjoyed neat, with a slice of citrus fruit, or blended with soda or another mixer.