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Looking to try a whole new kind of brandy? Why not invest in a bottle of pisco? Read our expert review of this version from Barsol
Pisco is one of the most-adored brandy categories there is. This South American delight was spawned from a port in Peru, and is now enjoyed in cocktails the world over.
This see-through spirit has a bit more of a bite to it than its French cousins, but is just as worthy of enjoyment over the rocks. The Barsol Italia is packed with fresh and juicy flavours – blackberries mingle with tropical fruits, the pair dusted with pepper.
In the 16th century, the world as we know it was being formed in a maelstrom of conquest and colonisation. In 1532, the Spanish invaded Peru and they, of course, brought wine. However, most of the wine was earmarked for the church, as was the wine produced by the few vineyards that had been established in the territories of New Spain.
But, Peru had plenty of land that was ideal for grape vines. By the 1560s, there was a burgeoning wine trade in Peru, and the Spanish passed laws banning the planting of new vineyards to protect its own native wine industry.
Local farmers began producing aguardiente, a grape-based brandy, using leftover grapes given to them by Jesuit priests who controlled wine production in the region. Today, an aguardiente is any alcoholic beverage between 29-60% ABV.
In Santa Maria Magdalena, aguardiente became pisco. The town had a port named Pisco, and it was from here that this new grape brandy was shipped throughout Peru. Soon, visiting sailors enjoying it in South America took the spirit abroad, creating demand and boosting production. Eventually, the town became known simply as Pisco, as did the colourless grape brandy.
Flash-forward to 1764, and pisco accounted for 90% of the grape-based booze produced in the Ica valley and Pisco regions. Its popularity grew exponentially – pisco punch became the most fashionable drink in San Francisco in the 1850s.
Pisco offers a bombastic alternative to the mellow subtleties of French cognac, bringing in bolder flavour profiles but without overpowering the consumer.
The Barsol Italia has a nose of exotic fruits and flowers; cherry blossom and pineapple are matched by a smattering of pepper.
The palate is a balanced blend of dark berries and fresh papaya, pineapple and black pepper – these flavours carry through to a sharp but satisfying finish.
This review was last updated in December 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.