FEBRUARY 2011PISCOPORTÓNBRINGING PISCO INTOTHE MAINSTREAMIRISHEYESARE SMILINGIRISH WHISKEYTHRIVES YEAR-ROUNDSHELFLIFE12 TIPS FOR KEEPINGIT FRESHCULINARYCOCKTAILSDRINKS TAKE A CUEFROM THE KITCHEN INDUSTRY NEWS • NEW PRODUCTS & PROMOTIONS • MARKETING INFO • AND MORE
Pisco Portón Master Distiller, Johnny Schuler is one of the worlds foremost experts on Pisco.PISCO PORTÓNBRINGING PISCO INTO THE MAINSTREAMW ith new spirits coming onto the bring this clear spirit distilled from grapes be equally appreciated here in the States. market all the time, it’s hard to back to American cocktails. Hence, the creation and introduction of imagine there’s an entire spirit Pisco Portón is planning to be Pisco Portón, which has been produced andcategory missing from most bars in america. that catalyst that brings Pisco into the overseen by master distiller and celebratedYou can travel the world in a cocktail glass, mainstream. Brand owners, and father and Peruvian Pisco expert, Johnny Schuler.from irish whiskies to mexican tequilas son team, Bill and Brent Kallop have lived Bill Kallop comments, “While living andto french cognacs. But somewhere along for many years in Peru and know good working in Peru I fell in love with Pisco, andthe way, an old friend from peru – pisco – Pisco when they see it; and these Texas whenever I returned back to my home indisappeared from bars. Pisco Portón, a new businessmen are savvy enough to know that Houston I was frustrated that I could neverultra premium brand of Pisco, is poised to the Pisco they enjoy so much in Peru could find Pisco that was even remotely as good12 BIN February 2011
as what I was used to drinking in Peru. I The craft has always remained alive and fermented juice (must) is then distilled tosaw the opportunity there to introduce a well in Peru though and distillers adhere 86 proof in custom made copper pot stillspremium Pisco into the U.S. market, but to strict laws regulating its production. By and is left to rest for five to eight monthsI needed a partner with the knowledge and Peruvian law the spirit must be made from before bottling to let the flavors of the Piscoenthusiasm to take on this huge task. Johnny one single grape, or a blended selection of develop. Because Pisco Portón is distilled toSchuler was really the one and only choice grapes chosen from amongst eight specific proof, the master distiller has just one chancefor this role. His name is synonymous with grape varietals grown in Peru (Quebranta, to make each batch exactly right.Pisco, and the company is very fortunate Mollar, Negra Criolla, Uvina, Italia, The company has invested millions ofto have him working on the project. He Torontel, Moscatel and Albilla). Then the dollars in creating its new home at Haciendahad been offered the opportunity to make spirit must be distilled to proof without La Caravedo in Ica, Peru, where theyhis own Pisco by other entrepreneurs many allowing any water, artificial flavoring, wood have built a state-of-the-art distillery andtimes but always declined. I gave him aging or additives introduced to change restored Destileria La Caravedo, which wascarte blanche to create his vision for the the pure essence of the distillate. Piscos established in 1684 and is the oldest distilleryultimate premium Pisco and he produced a are divided into three main categories – in the Americas. The new distillery was builttruly exceptional product.” puro, acholado and mosto verde. A puro with centuries-old pisco making methods in He continues, “It’s our hope that the designation indicates that the Pisco is mind. Schuler explains, “Everything worksintroduction of Pisco Portón will help grow made from only one type of grape while by gravity; we use no artificial or mechanicalthe premium Pisco category in the U.S. and an acholado denotes a Pisco derived from pressures or pumps that could stress thegeneral interest in the spirit. We want to a blend of grapes. The third classification, liquid and alter its character. We let natureeducate consumers on how versatile Pisco mosto verde, refers to the fermentation take her time. Our new, modern distillery isis in cocktails and establish it as the ‘new’ process. Schuler notes that Piscos in this an engineering feat inspired by Destileria Lamixable white spirit.” category are made from grape juice that has Caravedo, which we still use to produce a While Pisco Portón is a new brand, Pisco not completely fermented and are generally portion of our Pisco.”itself is a product with a very long history. regarded as the highest quality Piscos. Master Distiller Schuler has greatWhen the Spanish first came to Peru they Pisco Portón is a mosto verde Pisco reverence for the history and culture of Piscofound that grapes did not grow there and thus, made from a blend of three grape varietals making and, though Pisco Portón is thethey couldn’t make wine for church mass. So, (Quebranta, Torontel, and Albilla), each first Pisco he has ever personally produced,in 1560, Marquis Francisco de Caravantes picked for their contribution to the delicate he’s been well equipped to do so for quitebrought the first grapes over from Spain and nose, complex body and smooth finish of the some time as he’s a renowned expert on thewine production took off in Peru. It was so spirit. A juice from the first pressing of these spirit. It was approximately 27 years ago,successful in fact that Peruvian wines began grapes is made and then fermented, but not after someone introduced this restaurateurto outsell Spanish wines, and Spain enacted completely, in order to retain some of the to the joys of the grape, that he embracedheavy taxes on the exportation of Peruvian natural grape sugars that would otherwise the liquor he had always seen as simply thewine to protect its own vineyards. To avoid be converted to alcohol. The partially base of a Pisco sour, Peru’s national cocktail.these taxes, wine producers began distillingtheir grapes into the spirit that would cometo be named Pisco, after the port from whichit was first exported. At times, exportation tothe U.S. reached millions of liters. America’s love affair with Pisco reachedits height in the late 1800s. HistorianHerbert Asbury, in his book Barbary Coast:An Informal History of the San FranciscoUnderworld writes, “The Bank Exchangewas famous for the Pisco Punch created byDuncan Nichol, one of the well-knownbartenders of the region... During the 1870s,it was, by far, the most popular drink in SanFrancisco, in spite of the fact that each glasswas sold for 25 cents, a high price in thosedays.” Right up until Prohibition it was apopular spirit in the U.S., but has never Pisco Portón is made from a blend of three graperegained the same level of recognition. varietals: Quebranta, Albilla and Torontel.
Pisco Portóns vineyards at Hacienda La Caravedo in Ica, Peru. Since then, he has gone on to have a weekly years, helping producers to better production there’s a far different approach you need to television show about Pisco, has written two methods. At that time I had two choices, take when you’re peddling Pisco. books on the spirit and is working on a third. I could go into the business because it was Kallop says, “Launching a new spirits brand is Because of his show, which airs in Latin and a great opportunity or I could promote it. I a very complicated process – certainly more North America, Schuler has even become chose to spread my passion and enthusiasm complicated than I originally envisioned. The accustomed to being greeted on the street, around the world, and so I became the Pisco list of things that need to be accomplished “Hey, cheers Mr. Pisco!” ambassador for Peru. Over the years, many prior to launch is quite extensive. For us, the He explains how he fell in love and people offered me a lot of money to put my first and most important task was perfecting became Pisco’s most vocal advocate, “My name on the label of a bottle. But, I didn’t the product. Fortunately, our Master Distiller mother and father drank scotch and so I want to do it because I made a commitment (Johnny Schuler) is widely regarded as one didn’t grow up drinking Pisco. All I knew to promote all Piscos. ” of the foremost Pisco authorities in the about it was that we made Pisco Sours with The ebullient Pisco ambassador and his world, and we were able to produce a truly it at the restaurants where I worked. But, it business partners have a number of significant exceptional Pisco quickly. From that point came to be this magical, beautiful, structured, challenges ahead of them; up first was getting of departure, we shifted our attention to and aromatic spirit that took me by storm. a grasp on the spirits industry. Brent quickly the U.S. where we began to focus on things It was love at first drink. I fell madly in recognized there was a big divide between like package design, package manufacturing, love with Pisco. I formed the first Peruvian the oil business and the booze business. positioning strategy, consumer and trade tasting guild over which I presided for 17 Though both involve lubricating liquids, research, developing the brand look and feel, distributor presentations, logistics, finance, legal, permitting, etc. All of this takes time. We have been preparing for this launch for over a year now, and we are still rushing to complete everything before our March launches in California and Texas and April launch in New York. Also, although we have found some good agencies to assist us with the launch and future business, the amount of required coordination between Pisco Portón and the agencies, and among the agencies themselves, has been very surprising to me. It really is an integrated effort and everyone needs to be on the same page and working towards the same objectives. This project has been a very new and different professional experience for me. The spirits business requires very close attentionPisco Portón is handcrafted at the historic Hacienda La Caravedo. to consumer behavior – which is often timesFounded in 1684, it is the oldest distillery in the Americas. very difficult to predict. Understanding 14 BIN February 2011
PORTÓN SOUR1 ½ oz. Pisco Portón™½ oz. fresh lime juice½ oz. simple syrup¼ oz. egg whiteShake ingredients with ice.Strain into chilled glass.Garnish with a dash of bitters.PORTONERO After it is distilled, the Pisco rests for five to eight months in non-reactive cement tanks called cubas de guardia.2 oz. Pisco Portón™1 tsp. fresh lime juice consumer behavior has been one of my Portón there is history, there’s story, there’s1 tsp. simple syrup biggest challenges. My previous professional tradition. There’s 326 years of Peruvian1 slice of ginger experience relates to the oil and gas industry Pisco. However, we’re not telling people1 dash of bitters where my focus was on finding and producing they can only enjoy Pisco in a traditionalGinger ale a commodity – which is challenging in its way. This drink can be many things to own way. The ultra premium spirits market many people.Pour first five ingredients into a tall is all about marketing and building a brand Brent is happy to join the intimate partyglass filled with ice. Fill with ginger ale. that will appeal to consumers.” already underway and adds, “We certainly The consumers’ unfamiliarity with intend to collaborate with other PiscoStir and garnish with a lime wedge. the flavor notes and style of the beverage brands. Every spirits company involved in presents a second challenge for the Kallop/ Pisco knows that as the category becomes Schuler/Pisco Portón team. Anthony more widely recognized, all of us benefit. WeSTRAWBERRY PORTÓN TINI Caporale of The Art of the Drink notes, are grateful for the work that the existing “You get a rustic quality out of it. It retains Pisco brands have already accomplished3 fresh strawberries, crushed a lot of the original fruit character and it’s in the US market, but we know there is1/2 oz. Monin® Chipotle a much fuller flavor experience than we’re much more that needs to be done. RaisingPineapple Syrup* used to with vodka. Vodka has gotten so awareness of Pisco is critical to the success of1 1/4 oz. Pisco Portón™ polished, and that’s sort of our benchmark this category.”3/4 oz. fresh lime juice for white spirits. Pisco is hot, and a little And therein lays the brand’s third3/4 oz. simple syrup rougher than the American palate is used to. challenge – making sure that Pisco is1 1/4 oz. soda water Damian Windsor of The Roger Room in Los recognized as a category unto itself. Windsor Angeles concurs with Caporale’s assessment opines, “Pisco is going to be a proper*or substitute 1/2 oz. simple syrup of the flavor and adds, “It’s very forward. It’s category. It has a really low profile right now,and 2 drops chipotle hot sauce Shake got a lot of stuff going on. A big base and big but it’s a category that’s very easy drinking. Itwith ice. Strain into glass. top as well. The non-aromatic grapes have may be a hard sell on the shelf, but once you been used to create a big round base for the put it in a glass it’s a very drinkable spirit. ItsGarnish with fresh strawberry and aromatics to sit on. It’s not going to shy away low-ish alcohol content and the high flavorlime twist. from anything.” Schuler adds, “It’s a spirit make it extremely marketable.” that arouses a lot of curiosity. At Tales of the Marketing it beyond the classic Pisco Cocktail you could hear the hum. ‘Where’s Sour is the last challenge team Portón needsULTIMATE PERUVIAN the Pisco? What’s the spirit?’” to address as Windsor cautions, “If anyoneMARGARITA Fortunately, this curiosity is not the knows of Pisco they make the association kind that killed the proverbial cat. Instead with a Pisco Sour and wouldn’t think of1 oz. Pisco Portón™ it opens up opportunities for Pisco Portón drinking it by itself.” Pisco shouldn’t get1 oz. Gran Marnier® to enter the category and build upon the caught in the trap of becoming a one drink½ oz. fresh lime juice educational platform that’s already been wonder; stuck in the Pisco Sour ghetto.½ oz. fresh lemon juice laid down by other Pisco producers. Pisco Not that there’s anything wrong with1 oz. simple syrup Portón intends to take that ball and run a Pisco Sour; it’s a lush and delicious drink with it, opening up the premium arena worth ordering year round. And, there’s evenShake ingredients with ice. Strain into while bringing the consumer right along a movement in the US’s drinking communityglass filled with ice. with them. Schuler comments, “Without to recognize February 5th as National Pisco diminishing the other producers –with Pisco Sour Day. But the goal of the Kallops andGarnish with lime and orange wedge. 16 BIN February 2011
Master Distiller Johnny Schuler sits besides a traditional wooden lagar (press) at Pisco Portóns historic distillery.Schuler is to make sure that they build upside to introducing Pisco as the American turn become unofficial brand ambassadors,upon the work that other Pisco producers consumer is ready to embrace another white sharing their passion for the brand and thehave done in the US and illuminate how spirit. We saw them do it with Patron.” category with their customers. Windsorversatile a spirit it can be. Brent offers Windsor says of the brand, “It’s going to notes, “Bartenders need something to doan on-the-ground perspective, “Well in be a great spirit for mixing. There’s a very with their time other than serve drinks.Peru, where I currently live, Pisco is often fine balancing act because sometimes white More Pisco on the back bar means moreserved neat, but the bars and restaurants spirits are very hard to blend – the flavors opportunity for creativity. Eventuallyin Lima also serve it in literally hundreds you want to pull out of the white spirits get someone is going to break through theof different cocktails. We do not want to lost behind. Typically with white aromatic mold of just making sours. We’ll see morelimit ourselves to one or two drinks. We spirits flavor gets lost behind sugar and citrus variations on classic style cocktails.see a huge opportunity to promote Pisco and liqueur, but this one has enough flavor so Caporale adds, “There are millionsin a variety of new and different cocktails. it won’t get lost.” of people who have been drinking thisPisco is a very mixable white spirit with a He continues to describe the taste, “It’s for a long time. We should add this to ourreally nice flavor profile. It adds complexity floral. I get a little bit of heat and with that repertoire and palate.”and character to a wide variety of drinks. little bit of heat comes a little sweetness Schuler concludes with his thoughts onI think this kind of versatility and variety and a little spice (sharpness). If it had to be this copper pot distilled grape spirit that hewill really appeal to the American referred to as a kitchen spice I’d say it’s the drinks and cooks with, “Pisco for me is anconsumer. I also think that this is why we feeling you get from white pepper, but not aperitif and an after dinner drink. You canhave had such a positive reception from the taste. macerate, marinate, and flambé with it. It’sthe mixologist community.” Schuler shares his thoughts on the flavor versatile and adapts to many things. We Schuler agrees, “We feel the product profile of Pisco Portón, “The three grapes are want to be at the dance that vodka, andcannot be just circumscribed to an ethnic complimentary to one another and give me a tequila go to. Pisco Portón - it’s a story of aconcept. We are not only going to go to product in which the first impression on the revival. This is your drink. Let’s bring it backPeruvian bars or Peruvian restaurants. We nose is the alcohol; so you’ll feel a little bit to life.” ■want to give Americans options for how of the heat like a rum or a Cognac. Initiallyto enjoy this white spirit in drinks.” And I pick up straw, chocolate, banana peel.long ago, Americans knew this as Schuler Then, I begin to find the second wave, theexplains, “Pisco punch was an American Muscat aroma, peaches, mango, pineapple,cocktail developed by Americans in tangerine peel, a bit of pine and green apple.America. It was bottled.” White grapes, raisins. Then the third grape Capturing that Pisco spirit in a bottle comes to work – Albilla. It’s a sweet grapeagain is something that Caporale sees as that gives it roundness and smoothness. Itviable for Pisco Portón as he believes that goes down like liquid velvet. The flavors andit offers a more involved flavor experience. textures combine to give you a long finish.”“Pisco is definitely the kind of spirit Introducing this Pisco to market andconsumers can embrace as a category. The offering the unique set of flavors and textureswhite spirits category is huge in terms of that Pisco Portón brings to the bar is whatpotential growth. Right now there’s a huge will sell bartenders on it. And, they will in Pisco Portón is an ultra premium,18 BIN February 2011 mosto verde Pisco.