I’ve learned more about pisco in the last 48 hours than I’ve ever wanted to know. In a nutshell, pisco is the Peruvian or Chilean take on brandy (the two countries are virtually over war over which pisco is “real”): Made by distilling wine then bottling it without aging, pisco is a white spirit that last had its heyday on these shores in the years before Prohibition.
Now pisco is attempting a comeback, and numerous brands are winding their way to the market. Pisco Portón is one of them, and it’s so new that it doesn’t even have a bottle design we can share with you yet. A “mosto verde” pisco, Portón is made using wine that is not fully fermented, which leaves a bit of sugar in the spirit and, ostensibly, a smoother, silkier body.
Pisco Portón is rougher than I’d thought it would be. At 86 proof that might be expected, but I imagined it would be balanced by the sugar content. Not so: Portón is hot and spicy, complex with a mix of wood, phenol, smoke, and then a finish that offers the sweetness that Portón promises: honey, lemon, and fresh satsuma. (Yeah, I just wrote “satsuma” in a review. Sorry.)
In today’s world of ultra-smooth spirits, the invariably funky pisco is an incredibly tough sell. That said, Portón is about as good as any I’ve tried to date.