Produced in Peru and Chile, pisco shares a number of qualities with its older European cousin, Brandy. Both spirits are distilled from a wine base, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Cognac, brandy’s premier variety, is required to be aged in oak casks for a minimum of two years, but Peru forbids the aging of pisco in any type of wood. Pisco and brandy also use quite different grape varieties, leading to further differences between the spirits. All-in-all, the relationship between pisco and brandy is like a more extreme version of the relationship between white and aged rums.
In terms of taste, pisco is a light, somewhat sweet spirit, with a distinct grape taste. It’s great shaken with citrus – you’ll notice that most of the cocktails we’ll be featuring over the next few weeks include the combination. Pisco selection is fairly limited here in Canada (or maybe just in Calgary), but you can’t really go wrong with most of the certified varieties from Peru or Chile.