One of my most unforgettable international distilling adventures was exploring and even being part of pisco production and blending in Peru with Encanto Pisco. I had already loved the spirit for years but fell even more in love after those travels. There are not a slew of pisco releases/imports in a year as there may be with other spirits, but there are some notable ones recently.
PISCO PAYETs SINGLE VARIETAL TORONTEL ($32.95)
Pisco Payet is a lovely import from Perú with an award-winning acholado (pisco blend) and Quebranta pisco from a family that studied production methods in wine (in California and Argentina) and French distilleries in Cognac and Bordeaux, to refine their pisco production.
My favorite of their three piscos, released last fall, is Pisco Payet Torontel, an herbaceous, floral pisco that goes down silky-smooth, showing off the sophisticated qualities of the Torontel grape.
PISCO PORTONs QUEBRANTA & TORONTEL SINGLE VARIETAL PISCOS ($39.99)
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As the biggest brand in pisco in terms of dollars and influence, Pisco Portons acholado (blended pisco) can be found the world over. This fall, they are releasing for the first time two single varietal, estate-grown piscos that are the same price as their acholado ($39.99), despite the additional cost of producing Torontel specifically.
Their Quebranta exhibits those Quebranta grape qualities I love: earth and green notes, with hints of chocolate and sweet, spiced pear. The Torontel is elegant: bright and tropical on the nose, smelling of baked fruit in the sun, while its floral, blossom aspects shine to taste.
I recently had the privilege of an hour chatting with master distiller Johnny Schuler over what else? pisco, about the 120 people he employees, including mostly female distillers. He notes, The origins of pisco are purity, a quality you taste in both of Porton’s clean (but far from bland) new releases.