$ — 40% ABV — 9 months
Wine-lovers are a hard crowd to sell, but aromatic piscos might well be it. Smooth and clear but still very flavorful and (shockingly) affordable, pisco is the vodka-killer. And like Macchu Pisco will be the one to do it. Uncorking the bottle gives of a strong aroma of chardonnay.
However, Macchu Pisco is made from quebranta grapes, and one bottle of pisco requires the equivalent poundage of grapes that would make eight bottles wine. No doubt this is what's causing such a dramatic nose. This is also likely what keeps the price low. Quebrantas are common and cheap and classed as one of the three "non-aromatic" pisco grapes, a distinction that doesn't seem to make sense until you start sipping premium piscos.
Aged in steel drums for a mere nine months, Macchu Pisco's maturation may seem downright trivial. Tequila fans will know the big difference nine months can make, but in steel, the pisco has no carbon to filter it, no flavor to absorb and is given very little contact with its environment.
Still, these nine months are necessary, especially for pisco's target audience: the rawness of the spirit is lost during this time to a process called esterification. The alcohols are so volatile when first distilled, a nine month meditation in a neutral container gives the spirit a chance to calm down and collect itself. It's a practice that's echoed in blended Scotch, but few folks hear about it because it sounds quite boring. The result is anything but.
Macchu Pisco is located in Ica, Peru. Established in 2003 by Melanie de Trindade-Asher, it remains an independent distiller.