Pisco isn’t your typical brandy—at least not for those who are more familiar with European-style brandies. Like its cousins, Cognac and Armagnac, pisco is distilled from grapes. But unlike those oaky offerings, it’s not aged in wood (in fact, regulations forbid it). Instead, the spirit, which can be made only in Chile and Peru, must age or “rest” for at least three months in glass, stainless steel or other materials that don’t alter its chemical makeup, and must also remain additive-free. The resulting spirit is grassy, vegetal and earthy with a pale straw color.
Though pisco was popular with American bartenders in the late-1800s, it fell out of favor during the 20th century. It’s only recently started showing up in U.S. liquor stores and cocktail bars once again. And we couldn’t be more excited. Not only does the abundance of pisco inspire the return of classics cocktails like the Pisco Punch and Pisco Sour, but it also opens the door for new innovations.