Factories,  Production sites

El Catador – Pisco – Ica Peru

Pisco is a common alcoholic beverage in Latin America. Both Peru and Chili are famous for it. Even though I enjoy the Chilean pisco more than the Peruvian one, I still went to see how traditional Peruvian pisco is made, out of pure interest.

Our tour guide preparing for the tour

Peru Hop promotes this tour as part of their bus tickets. So that’s how I found out about this production site. Peru Hop also arranged the transportation to and from the pisco production. Ideal, since I was going to drink at the pisco place. You can check out Peru Hop on https://www.peruhop.com/ if you’re considering visiting Peru.

The tour guide started by explaining how Peruvians like all things sweet; their wine, soft drinks (for example Inca cola), and snacks are extremely sweet. After staying in Peru for five weeks I can only say that this is true. Their sweets are really sweet and I must’ve gained some weight there. The tour guide even related the Peruvian need for sweetness to their body posture (height and shape). I don’t know if this is really the reason, I just wanted to mention his observations.

Process

The grapes that are used for wine are also used for pisco. The process starts more or less the same as making wine with the picking of grapes, making juice and fermenting the juice. The equipment that is used in El Catador is way different than the equipment I’ve seen at wineries. This could either be because different equipment is used for pisco than for wine, or because I’ve never been to a winery in Peru. Both are reasonable explanations, so I have to go back to a Peruvian winery and a Chilean pisco production.

Fermentation tank
Fermentation Tanks

For a more direct result, after googling a bit, I found this website that explains how Peruvian pisco is made. She mentions stainless steel and glass for the production. That would mean this place is an exception to standard production. So now I have to go back to Peru to see a standard pisco production place, to really compare and contrast.

 

Distillation area

Anyhow, subsequently, the fermented grape juice is distilled to reach a higher alcohol percentage. In the picture, you can see the tube entering the water. The water is not in direct contact with the distilled liquid, the water only cools the distillate. Diluting the resulting distillate is not allowed; adding sugar is also not allowed. The distillate needs to age for a couple of months in a neutral vessel. El Catador uses amphoras for the aging process as you can see in the picture. Amphoras were used for wine-making in almost every ancient culture, nowadays wooden barrels are more common for wine. However wood is not allowed for the production of pisco, so it kind of makes sense that El Catador sticks to using amphoras.

 

aging of pisco in amphoras
Aging in amphoras

A clear shot

Tasting

Turns out they make a variety of piscos, meant to be enjoyed at different moments. The variety is based on the grapes that are used. It can be purely one type of grape or a mix of grapes. So it is the same type of system as for wine.

At the end of the tour, we sat down and got a taste of a couple (I think 6) of them. I tried to keep track, but it was difficult. I guess we got at least two dark shots and four clear shots. Although I’m not sure anymore, because I really started to feel the alcohol. I usually hardly ever drink pure pisco, it tastes too strong to me.

During the beginning of the tasting, our tour guide showed us a small doll, which he thought was hilarious. After the tour, I agreed with him about the doll, so I made a short movie to show you all.

 

 

I do prefer my pisco mixed. Especially pisco sour is something else. I hope you have already tried it, and if not, please do and let me know what you think.

If you also want to visit this pisco production place you can check out their website: https://www.elcatador.pe/#

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