He’s passionate about Pisco! Johnny Schuler is Peru’s leading expert on Pisco and Master Distiller for Pisco Portón, whose Hacienda La Caravedo is the oldest Pisco distiller in the Americas (est. 1684). He explains the distillation process and grapes used to produce Pisco. Johnny is also a professional chef and restaurateur, owner of Granja Azul and Key Club, both in Lima.
Johnny says these four things distinguish Peruvian Pisco:
Pisco is made from wine, not grapes. Juice is extracted from the grapes to ferment and distill rather than crushing and using the entire grape and stems.
Pisco may only be made from the juice of eight designated grapes which are classified as ‘aromatic’ and ‘non-aromatic.’ The non-aromatic grapes are: Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Criolla and Uviña. Aromatic grapes are: Albilla, Italia, Torontel and Moscatel.
Pisco is a natural spirit whose distinct aromas and flavors come entirely from the terroir and grapes used. It is distilled to proof. No water, coloring, other flavorings or ingredients may be added. And we never utilize oak or any aging. Pisco is always crystal clear unlike a Cognac, Brandy or Armagnac.
Distillation is a single process, always using copper pot stills. In comparison, other spirits like vodka may undergo double and triple distillation to achieve intended smoothness.”
Pisco has three distinct styles: Puro uses a single variety grape, either aromatic or non-aromatic. Acholado is a blend of two or more grapes of any kind. Mosto Verde a style that stops the fermentation process prior to the 100% conversion of grape sugar to wine. The result is a creamier, fuller style Pisco.
Listen more on this edition of The Connected Table Live! Johnny is in the second segment.
Melanie and David talk with two spirited women on Wednesday’s edition of The Connected Table LIVE Wednesday, October 15th, 2pm ET/6pmPT W4CY www.W4CY.com.
Our first guest is Lizzie da Trindade-Asher, President of Macchu Pisco, who with her sister, Melanie, have helped share Peru’s national drink with the world. A lawyer by training Lizzie directs the legal, marketing, and importing side of Macchu Pisco and its sister brands, La Diablada and Ñusta Pisco. Melanie oversees production in Peru. Together, Lizzie and Melanie have achieved 30 percent growth annually since founding the company in 2004. “Every day, I am inspired by my sister’s dedication to creating authentic pisco,” says Lizzie, who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, worked for the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton, and earned a degree with honors from Harvard Law School.
Their pisco is an un-aged 80 proof clear spirit derived from a single distillation of fresh fermented grape juice (wine). It takes at least 4 bottles of wine to produce one bottle of pisco. It is from this costly process that an elegant spirit is born, one which most closely captures the essence of the grape. According to Lizzie, pisco is traditionally a sipping spirit. Because denomination rules require no additives whatsoever, pisco can be considered organic and thus should not produce a hangover, the mark of a real pisco.
Lizzie and her sister are active in supporting and improving Peruvian working conditions and women’s rights, as well as Latinas in business and education both in Peru and the U.S. Macchu Pisco established a precedent in Peru to support traditionally underpaid farmers by paying fair wages to the women who harvest their grape crops. They also ensure their socioeconomic goals are met from ground to glass by employing a vertical integration model—the only pisco company to hold such credentials—owning and overseeing each step of the production process. They also formed the Asher-Ezra Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to underprivileged Latino children in the Bronx.
Our second guest is Allison Patel, founder and owner of Brenne Single Malt Whisky produced in Cognac region of France. Allison’s professional background combines arts and smarts. As a young girl she was a professional ballerina performing with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. After retiring from the corps de ballet she worked in national sales and marketing for EXHALE Spa, setting and exceeding sales goals.
Her move from the ballet barre world to the cocktail bar world is just another sign of her entrepreneurial spirit. Traveling in France pursuing her passion for good food and drink and blogging about whiskey for pleasure at www.whiskeywoman.com, she discovered a single malt whiskey being produced from grapes in the Cognac region of France. Fond of fine whiskeys from lesser known areas, Alison’s interest was piqued. She researched the potential to import smaller production “world whiskies” to the U.S. eventually establishing an import/export company to focus on this category of distilled spirits.
Brenne (rhymes with men) is produced by a third generation cognac producer who was growing estate barley as well as grapes. The cognac was matured in French Limousin oak barrels imparting a smooth taste and fruit forward notes that captured Allison’s attention. Her talent for persuasion and sales helped Allison strike a deal with the producer who had only producing this special cognac whiskey for the family. Over a three and a half year period she refined the process with the producer finishing the spirit in XO cognac barrels after five – six years aging in the Limousin oak ones. The result is smooth, aromatic, spicy yet mellow and unlike any other whiskey we’ve tasted.
Allison was named one of the Top 10 Women in Whisky by Drinks Business Magazine and awarded Highly Commended in the Icon of Whisky award for Brand Innovator of the Year for 2014.
The Connected Table Live airs live Wednesdays at 2 p.m. ET/11a.m. PT on W4CY Radio http://www.W4CY.com. The show is available on demand at www.iHeartRadio.com and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.