After arriving in Lima, we were greeted by our transfer to the hotel, Antonio Espinoza. Antonio only spoke Spanish, however he was kind enough to bring along his wife Nora who is an English teacher in a Peruvian private school. After some chitchat, we informed Nora that we would be interested in having Antonio take us around the city for a day trip and he happily obliged.
Antonio planned a day trip to a little town about two hours south of Lima called Azpitia. In Azpitia he organized a private tour and tasting of piscos at a pisco winery and distillery called El Sarcay de Azpitia.
El Sarcay first came about in 2004 when seven friends from Lima moved to Azpitia with an idea. After acquiring 18 acres of various types of grape varieties, they decided to create pisco. The story goes that the Spanish conquistadors brought over grape vines and began making wine, and pisco was birthed from grapes that were not well suited for the production of wine. Pisco is a brandy-like liquor made from distilling fermented grape juice.
Now, I am no expert on pisco, but in short these are the steps taken to make this very strong alcohol. The distillation of pisco begins with the selection of certain leftover grapes that didn’t get selected for the wine process. These grapes are then put through wooden presses so the juice can be squeezed out of them. The liquid is then placed into pisqueras (a container) so that the fermentation process can begin.
That liquid is then placed into a copper container called an alambique. This liquid is then heated by fire, which in turn produces a more flavorful pisco.
The distillation process happens after evaporating the liquid and then reducing it by contact with cold. This happens as the liquid steams and travels through a tube, moving through a cold vat of water.
It is through this process that little droplets are created through condensation and pisco is formed. In the final steps, the pisco exits the tube and enters a vat where it is aged for at least six months.
After we learned about the distillation and fermentation process, we walked over to a bar area to sample different types of pisco. Pisco puro or pure pisco is a well-known and loved type. Similar to wine, the type of grape used to make a pisco will determine the type of flavor it has. Pisco is a little too strong for me, but if you are a brandy lover, this is the South American liquor for you.
After the pisco tour we had a beautiful lunch with a view at Balcon del Cielo. Balcon del Cielo translates into English as the balcony of heaven. This is most likely due to the fact that this restaurant delivers delicious maritime cuisine as well as a heavenly view of a Peruvian river valley.
It was awesome to be able to experience Peru this way. In such a short amount of time, Nora and Antonio became a part of our family that day, and from day one treated us as if we were also a part of their family. If you’re ever in Lima be sure to contact Antonio for transfers to and from the airport and be sure to like his travel and tour page on facebook. You'll be happy you did.
|Our new friends Antonio and Nora!|