The big drink in Chile is pisco sours. They are offered everywhere and not just for tourists. Everyone seems to be drinking them. The first one we had was a freebie in a hotel in
Antofagasta. We drank it down, thought it was good, then ordered a glass of wine.
But, a few nights ago we tried them again, and were amazed. They tasted similar to a margarita without the salt or nacho chips.
I wasn’t even sure which part was the pisco, was it the alcohol or the juice? It turns out pisco is a type of brandy made out of muscat grapes.
And, as luck would have it, La Serena is near the Equi Valley which is a large producer of pisco. And even luckier, you can go pisco tasting in the valley.
We drove to the town of Vicuna which was worth the drive in itself. The valley was full of pisco vineyards
We started our pisco tasting at a distillery called Fuegos. We pulled up and the guy parking his truck had to run and find the woman that runs the tasting room. But, we were happy to see it was open for tasting, more than we can say about our last tasting experience.
The tastes were small, but this stuff is brandy, so a little went a long way for me.
Next up was Capel. They are the granddaddy of pisco in this area. Every sign in the nearby town of Vicuna had a Capel logo on it.
Capel had a huge facility with a paid tour in Spanish or English. The English one was in session when we got there. Turns out it was only 5 minutes into the tour, but not wanting to miss a second of it (since we had paid the equivalent of $3 each) I insisted we go on the Spanish speaking tour.
This meant I didn’t understand a single word for the hour long tour. From what I gather, they take grapes, ferment the juice, put it in big tanks, then put it in some oak barrels, then distill it…or something like that.
This little boy on the tour understood about as much as I did . One thing I don’t think was covered in the tour, although I don’t really know, Peru also claims pisco as their national drink. There is a big controversy between the two countries over pisco.
Then we got to the tastng room. You don’t need to understand Spanish to taste pisco. Well, actually it doesn’t hurt.
The group was ushered into a room where we sat in a circle. The guide prepared a tray with sample cups filled with different flavored pisco drinks. They passed around the tray.
I’ve been to enough wine tastings and coffee tastings to know, when presented with a tray like this, you should take one of each to compare. No, actually not with pisco, you only take one.
Then after the tray went around, the guide opened a bottle of a reserve pisco and started pouring samples behind a counter. She asked if anyone would like to try this pisco. Jeff and I ran to the counter. She handed out samples to Jeff and the other guys standing there. She looked at me and said in Spanish, “Are you sure YOU want one?” I guess women don’t normally drink this kind of pisco. Not knowing how to answer “Um, yeah, hand it over.” I just said, “claro.” which means of course.
When the tastings were over the rest of the group went into the sales room. Jeff, me and some others lingered and finished off the left-over samples on the tray, another trick I learned from coffee tastings.
Sadly, our suitcases are too full to bring any pisco home, so I’m hoping we can find it in the USA.
After a quick nap in the parking lot, we went back into the town of Vicuna where I took a lot of photos
The pisco tastings were great in that pisco is good, the tasting rooms were actually open, the valley was beautiful, and the town of Vicuna is a fun place to wander around in by itself.