Pisco is a unique liquor distilled from grapes in Peru or Chile, and it’s a close cousin to brandy, which is distilled from wine. Peruvian Pisco is not aged, and Chilean Pisco is usually aged in barrels, which means that Peru’s Pisco is colorless and Chile’s is a faint yellow/brown color.
I tried two types: Pisco Portón from Peru, and Don Quixote “Pisqo Brandy,” in the style of Chilean Pisco, from here in New Mexico. When tasted straight, Pisco Portón reminded me of stems and reeds, earthy and aromatic. It has a flavor that I haven’t really experienced yet in spirits – falling somewhere between tequila, vodka, and grappa. Don Quixote Pisqo was more similar in flavor to brandy, with a desert spiciness to it and a really crisp and clean finish.
I made Pisco Sours with both types of Pisco:
- 2 oz pisco
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- shake all ingredients hard in a cocktail shaker with no ice to froth the egg white
- add ice and shake again to chill
- pour into an old fashioned glass and top with 3 drops of bitters (exclude the bitters when using Chielean piscos)
Pisco Portón was the best fit for this particular cocktail. The intense flavor of Don Quixote’s Pisqo overpowered the ingredients, so I think Pisco Portón is going to be a better fit in mixed drinks, while Don Quixote’s Pisqo Brandy is better to sip unmixed, and it’s spicy character makes it a great complement to a cigar.