Spanish Conquistadors brought the first wine-producing grapes to Peru, establishing vast vineyards in the fertile Ica Valley located on the country's southern coast. Grapes not suitable for export to Spain were traded to local farmers, who in turn would distill them into brandy. Its popularity steadily grew, especially among seafarers and visitors to the port city of Pisco, from whence came its name. If you've yet to experience the unbridled pleasure of Peru's national spirit, highly acclaimed BarSol Primero Quebranta Pisco makes for a marvelous introduction.
Produced at Bodega San Isidro in the heart of the Ica wine-growing region, the BarSol Pisco Primero Quebranta is a luxurious artisanal spirit distilled exclusively from the dark purple Quebranta grape. The pressed grapes and pomace are allowed to slowly and naturally ferment at room temperature. Afterwards the fermented grape juice and pulp is single-distilled in copper alembic stills, a practice designed to best preserve the grape's distinctive characteristics. Stringent production regulations established by the Peruvian government do not allow anything else be added to pisco, not even water. It is bottled at 41.3% alcohol (82.6 proof).
An excellent example of how lush and magnificent these brandies can be is the highly acclaimed BarSol Primero Quebranta Pisco, Peru's leading export brand. It has crystalline clarity, an oily, medium-weight body and a wafting bouquet of red berries, citrus and mocha. The gentle entry rapidly expands bathing the palate with the long-lasting flavors of tropical fruit, citrus, dark chocolate, spice and oaky flavors. Its brilliant character makes BarSol Primero Quebranta an inspired choice to feature in the classic cocktail, the Pisco Sour.
BarSol and Bodega San Isidro handcraft a broad range of world-class piscos. Among its ranks is ultra-popular BarSol Pisco Selecto Italia, which is distilled entirely from premium Italia grapes cultivated in the Ica valley. The pisco is exceptionally aromatic, possessing a bouquet brimming with delightful floral and fruit aromas. Its palate is a mélange of cantaloupe, honeydew, orange zest, roses, jasmine and lilacs. The finish is long and delicious.
BarSol Pisco Selecto Torontel is distilled solely from locally grown Torontel grapes. The crystal clear, satiny textured pisco has enticing aromatics and an expansive, semisweet palate of grapes, raisins and fresh berries. Equally engaging is BarSol Pisco Selecto Acholado, which is distilled from a blend of the Ica Valley's three preeminent grape varietals: Quebranta, Italia and Torontel. The Acholado has a curvaceous body and a bouquet saturated with floral and fresh fruit aromas. Its spicy, fruity character carries through on the palate. The smooth, lingering finish adds the flavor of blueberries to the mix.
The Peruvian powerhouse also markets three mosto verde piscos, which are distilled from partially fermented grape juice and pomace. Each is made using a solitary varietal of grapes. The mosto verde piscos range from 40% alcohol (80 proof) to 41.8% (83.6 proof).
The BarSol Pisco Supremo Mosto Verde Quebranta, which is distilled entirely from Quebranta grapes, has a silky textured body and a captivating palate of chocolate, toffee, baking spice and fresh fruit. Its lingering finish is thoroughly satisfying. BarSol Pisco Supremo Mosto Verde Italia has a fresh, fruity character, while the BarSol Pisco Supremo Mosto Verde Torontel is imbued with a balanced fruit, floral and spice personality.
The esteemed portfolio includes one final opus, a sensational aperitif wine called BarSol Perfecto Amor. Similar to France's Pineau des Charentes, the small batch aperitif is crafted from a blend of pisco and fresh grape juice obtained from the three major grape varietals—Quebranta, Italia and Torontel. Each grape is juiced separately and fortified with pisco distilled from the same grape prior to fermentation. After fermentation, the three fortified varietals are blended together to become BarSol Perfecto Amor. It is bottled at 17% alcohol (34 proof).
Barsol Perfecto Amor has a deep amber/golden hue, a velvety textured, medium-weight body and a lavish floral and fresh fruit bouquet. Its aromatics set the stage well for the pleasures to follow. The aperitif is skillfully balanced and sports a palate loaded with the long lasting flavors of raisins, pears, apricots, caramel and marzipan.
This is not the first time pisco has caught on big in the U.S. During the days of the California Gold Rush, miners from South America streamed into San Francisco bringing with them ample supplies of Peru's native spirit. Its popularity gave rise to such classics as the Pisco Sour and Pisco Punch. After the onset of Prohibition, the crystal clear brandy disappeared from American bars.
Fortunately for us the cocktail resurgence has enticed piscos back to our shores led by award-winning BarSol. In the journey of discovery, they're an essential port of call.