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Pisco, farewell to Peru and South America

2 different distilleries and we drink the ship dry.

sunny 23 °C
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Our last day in Peru and in South America began with us travelling overnight from Lima and disembarking at the industrial port of San Martin.

This port is isolated and not in any town. From the port and the ship, we could see the desert landscape which is the main feature of the Pacific coast.


At this port, there were options for shore excursions which included flights over the Nazca Lines and boat tours of the wildlife in islands to the south. We opted instead for a bus tour of 2 pisco distilleries with tastings. (Pretend to be a little bit surprised). We boarded the bus and headed off through the coastal desert, past rocks, sand dunes and Ocean until we turned off away from the coast and down the Pan American highway. We continued through the desert landscape and began passing through huge industrial farms fed by underground water. There were hectares of table grapes which are grown in a canopy rather than in the rows associated with wine production.

Our guide on the bus gave us a history of the area and of Pisco as we headed for the first stop.

Pisco is described in Wikipedia as a colourless or yellowish-to-amber coloured spirit produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. Made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. Our guide touched on the dispute between Peru and Chile on the origin and ownership of the term Pisco and some of the differences. We will concentrate on the Peruvian version which we tasted. Our guide also stated that the origins of Pisco came about in colonial times when Spain outlawed the export of wine from South America to Spain to protect Spanish winemakers. This caused the winemakers in the area to turn to making a spirit from the wine to stay in business. Wikipedia does not mention this history but it was repeated at both the distilleries we visited so is perhaps more of an indication of the residual feelings over the colonial power.


Peruvian Pisco is now defined by government regulation as to the grapes, method and locations where it can be made and is sold as a spirit for mixing or blowing your head off as well as in several pre-mixed forms including flavoured cream varieties.

Our first stop was at a distillery which is focused on an eco-friendly image with accommodation and other fruits being grown on site along with the grapes and pisco production. We toured the gardens and were shown exhibits about the history of Pisco Making. This was followed by a tasting of spirit and cream versions of Pisco complete with the many different toasts in Spanish and the local language.


After making some purchases, we moved to a bar area to wait for our bus. Here we ordered a Pisco Sour Cocktail and watched this delicious drink being made.


One strange aspect of this first stop was that we were met by two police officers mixed in with the staff from the distillery as we exited the bus. The Police were friendly enough but were photographing or filming the passengers as we got off the bus and also as we walked around the site. Everywhere we had been in South America the local guides described the police as corrupt so I can only assume this was part of some shakedown of the distillery or even checking on the number of customers they were paying bribes for? Anyway, we never saw the police again and left the site with an appreciation for Pisco and the Pisco Sour.

We then drove through some back roads to get to the next distillery. Roads much too narrow for any other vehicle to pass the bus. Several times tractors had to reverse into fields to let us pass. We arrived at the second distillery which was a much larger operation producing over a million litres of spirit per year. While they had preserved some historical manufacturing equipment there was a focus on the new, modern plant and a slick visitor experience to a spectacular complex.

On arrival we were issued with a wristband to indicate which "experience" we had purchased and a can of Pisco pre-mix which peped everybody up before the tour of the site.


First a tour of the grounds and historic pisco-making equipment.


Then it was time to look at the new plant in the new distillery followed by the curated tasting (with toasts) and then exit via the gift shop. Kathy is seen admiring the flagons of Pisco but we settled for a few half bottles to bring back.


We rolled back into the bus and returned to the ship, much in need of food. At the port, we were greeted by the Captain and officers displaying the embracing of the local culture we all aspire to as we pillaged the stalls set up on the dock.


We were back on the ship around 2 p.m. after our half-day tour. Just in time for a late lunch and two Pisco Sour cocktails. Sometime before 9 p.m. the ship had run out of Pisco Spirit.

So we left mainland South America and headed into the Pacific Ocean. With our overland trip, it had been a hectic time and we needed some sea days to recuperate and do washing. South America had been so interesting and the people so welcoming of tourists. We are keen to go back and see more of it but without the high altitude next time.

Posted by StephenJBrown 20:50 Archived in Peru Tagged pisco

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