Chile celebrates its Independence Day on September 18, and this year the country took the opportunity to revive the battle its been locked in with Peru over who originated — or makes better — the South American spirit of Pisco.
Distilled from grapes, Pisco is essentially unaged (usually) brandy, though in Chile they are more apt to drop their Pisco in an oak barrel for a few months or years than they are in Pisco.
The Pisco Chile trade organization sent us two bottlings from its representatives for our consideration. Thoughts follow. For more on Pisco (with an admittedly Peruvian bent), check out this post. Both are 80 proof.
Control C Triple Distilled Pisco – Unclear what grape varietal is used, but this is a clean and white whiskey-like, unaged Pisco, with lots of spicy aromatics. Very fresh, and easy as a sipper. Minimal gasoline funk (common in virtually every Pisco I’ve ever had), instead offering hints of characteristics you’d actually find in French brandies — some citrus, some incense, and notes of pine needles and lemongrass. Surprisingly refreshing, something I rarely say about Pisco in any form. A- / $20
Espiritu de Elqui Pisco Reservado 40º – Lightly golden, indicating this Pisco (grape unknown) is aged for some time in oak before bottling. Lots more on the nose here, somewhat less pleasant with fuel notes and wood oil aromas. Notes of chocolate and coconut husk don’t really power out the muskiness, which fades away with a somewhat bitter finish. (Note: The locals get this 80 proof spirit at 90 proof.) B- / $14