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The Story of Pisco Portón
Try Something New That Is Actually New
Pisco Portón is an unapologetically flavorful spirit that brings dimension and character back to the drinking experience. Taken neat, it is complex and layered. When mixed, Pisco Portón creates a whole new category of cocktails, more flavorful than vodka and more subtle than tequila. Pisco Portón is the new spirit that is actually new, with aromas and flavors sure to incite and intrigue as it opens a whole new world of cocktail possibilities.
The History Of Pisco in the United States: The Pisco Punch
In the second half of the 19th century, pisco was king in San Francisco’s watering holes. Back then, it was easier to ship pisco up the coast from Peru than to transport whiskey overland from the East Coast. Newly rich gold prospectors, thirsty sailors, and eventually all of San Francisco developed a robust appetite for pisco that lasted until the supply was cut off by Prohibition in 1920.
Pisco Punch was the most famous cocktail in San Francisco, made at the Bank Exchange on Montgomery and Washington by famous bar owner, Duncan Nicol. At 25 cents, the drink was preposterously expensive yet incredibly popular.
A true gentleman barkeeper, Nicol had a house rule that two pisco punches were enough for any patron of his bar. If a customer wanted a third, he had to walk around the long block and come back in to qualify as a new customer. When John Mackay, perhaps the richest man in America at the time, asked for a third, Nicol said no. Mackay grabbed his hat and obediently walked around the block to have his third Pisco Punch.
The Pisco Sour
The most famous of all pisco cocktails was created by American, Victor V. Morris. A railroad man, he moved to Peru to work on new rail lines. In 1916, he left trains and moved to Lima, Peru to open Morris Bar. Morris had a knack as a barman and invented a number of drinks using pisco. American expatriates and traveling businessmen flocked to his bar to speak English and imbibe great cocktails, which were not widely available in Peru at the time. Their favorite was his Pisco Sour.
The recipe was so popular San Francisco bartenders borrowed it and began serving it in the United States. From there the recipe spread. Even after Prohibition made pisco scarce in America, the buzz about the drink continued and the recipe was published in Cocktail and Wine Digest (1946). It has been the most famous pisco cocktail ever since.
How is Pisco Portón Created
Pisco Portón is handcrafted using centuries-old distilling methods in combination with new technology to create a mosto verde pisco made from a blend of grapes that is of superior quality and true to Peruvian tradition. To preserve the full character of the grapes, Pisco Portón uses the mosto verde method of distilling from a partially fermented grape juice known as must. Our pisco is never adulterated with water or artificial flavors. What is in the glass is pure and natural.
This new ultra premium white spirit is made at Hacienda La Caravedo in Ica, Peru, which is home to a new state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly distillery, as well as the oldest distillery in the Americas (est. 1684). Pisco Portón is committed to maintaining a high level of artisanal craft and honoring centuries of Peruvian heritage. Each bottle is individually numbered and bears the signature of our Master Distiller, Johnny Schuler.
• Distilled to proof (no water added)
• Approximately 15 pounds of grapes go into every bottle of Pisco Portón
• Handcrafted in small batches
• Rested for months to achieve a complex, round flavor
• Never altered by aging in wood, the addition of water or artificial flavors and colors
• 100% made from must; not like grappa, which is made from pomace Mosto Verde
Pisco Portón uses the mosto verde method for making its pisco, which means that our distillate is made from must (grape juice) that has not completely fermented. This serves to keep some of the natural grape sugars from converting into alcohol, thus putting more flavor and aroma into every bottle. Mosto verde piscos are recognized as being the finest types of pisco, however most producers don’t use this method because it is very labor intensive and requires a large amount of grapes. Fifteen pounds of grapes go into every bottle of Pisco Portón!
The three grape varietals that give Pisco Portón its flavor are Quebranta, Albilla and Torontel.
• Quebranta is a non-aromatic varietal that evolved on the Peruvian coast. It is the most popular pisco grape in Peru and gives body and fullness of flavor to Pisco Portón.
• Albilla is a fragrant green grape with a soft and fruity taste structure. It is prized for its smooth finish in pisco.
• Torontel grapes have a strong citrus and peach aroma that lingers on the hands and clothing of workers who handle them. Its expression in the glass is alive with heady aromatic complexity
Distilled to Proof
Pisco Portón is distilled to exactly 86 proof using custom made copper pot stills. While distillers of whiskey or vodka can always water their spirit back down to proof, our master distiller only has one chance to make each batch right. By Peruvian law, no water can be added to the pisco to bring it to proof. This law ensures small batch distillation, which allows the master distiller to have more control over the entire distillation process and create a better product.
After distillation, the pisco rests in containers called cubas de guardia for five to eight months in order to let the flavors develop. These containers are made from cement because it is non-reactive and will not leach other flavors into the pisco as a wooden barrel would. As a result, Pisco Portón is the pure essence of its grapes and not a mix of grapes, wood or other unnatural flavorings.
Master Distiller Johnny Schuler
One of the foremost pisco authorities in the world, Johnny Schuler has dedicated much of his life to setting the standards for excellence in the pisco industry and revitalizing interest in Peru’s native spirit. As a pisco ambassador, he has traveled extensively in Peru and around the world educating spirits industry professionals and the public alike about the culture, heritage and craftsmanship that makes pisco so unique.
Mr. Schuler’s passion for pisco was first piqued in 1977 when he was asked to be an impromptu judge at a pisco competition. At the time, he was a well-established chef and restaurateur in Lima with a great appreciation for fine wines, but knew very little about pisco. Nevertheless, when the other judges became too tipsy to carry on their duties, his discerning palate was called upon. After sipping some 80 different varieties of the spirit, he was totally surprised to find that pisco could be so diverse and have such robust and complex flavor. From there on, he dedicated himself to learning everything he could about pisco and came to be one of its greatest advocates.
For more than 20 years, Mr. Schuler has played an integral role in bringing together government ministries and the private sector to regulate the pisco industry in Peru. As a member of INDECOPI, an organization responsible for protecting consumer rights and monitoring fair business practices in the country, Mr. Schuler was responsible for tasting and verifying the authenticity of any beverage seeking official designation as Peruvian pisco. He is also currently a member for the National Commission of Pisco (CONAPISCO) and was a founding member of the National Tasters Guild of Peru, for which he served as president for 17 years.
Mr. Schuler stepped down from his position as president of the National Taster’s Guild in 2010 when he was approached by Pisco Portón Founders Bill and Brent Kallop to create a new brand of ultra premium pisco for the U.S. market. For Schuler, it was a dream come true; free license to create, what was in his eyes, the ultimate pisco.
As master distiller he oversees brand development and marketing, as well as every aspect of production, from harvest to bottling, at the Hacienda La Caravedo distillery in Ica, Peru.
Respected the world over for his expertise, Mr. Schuler was awarded the Medal of Honor by Peruvian Congress in recognition for all that he has done to promote pisco and uphold Peruvian culture and tradition. He continues his work as a pisco ambassador, regularly speaking at wine and spirits events and judging tasting competitions, including the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, where he has sat on the jury for several years. His expertise and enthusiasm for pisco can also be seen on his popular television show, Por Las Rutas del Pisco, which is aired throughout Latin America and the U.S. A trained chef and successful restaurateur, pisco is also showcased in the dishes and at the bars of his restaurants in Peru, Granja Azul and Key Club. When he is not working, which is rare, he enjoys spending time with his family at their home in Lima.