For centuries, the neighboring countries of Peru and Chile have been embroiled in a debate over which is the true birthplace of pisco. Both sides, claiming the spirit as their own, have adopted the frothy pisco sour cocktail as the national drink. And, while each country imports pisco produced across the border, neither allows it to be labeled pisco. What’s all the fuss about? Like French cognac, pisco is a brandy distilled from wine (which has been produced in South America since the Spanish arrived there in the 16th century). Continue reading →
If you are interested in Mexican distilled spirits then get on to the Komali mailing list. Komali owner Abraham Salum has been holding some of the most interesting tastings in town. Hitherto, they have covered Tequila brands. Last week he hosted Mestizo Mezcal. What is Mezcal? Isn’t it just Tequila with a slug in the bottle?
Actually, none of the above. Tequila is Mezcal, made from the blue agave plant, if that helps. Mezcal is the broader category. The production techniques for high grade versions of each are identical. The heart of the maquey plant is roasted for three days and develops a brittleness that allows it to be crushed and release its liquid. This is fermented and then distilled. The long roasting gives mezcal its distinctive difference from tequila — a pronounced smokiness in the taste. Note no worm (larva). That is totally inessential to the product and probably a marketing gimmick for low-end mezcal in the past. Continue reading →