There are three types of pisco, Pure (Puro), Acholado (a blend) and Mosto Verde (Green Must). Pictured here is the brand Oro Pisco. They are currently the only ones in the U.S. market with all varietals available. The most readily available varietal in the U.S. is the Acholado.
Puro (aka Pure)
In the past, Pisco Puro was made exclusively from the Quebranta grape varietal. Quebranta is a grape that is a result of a Peruvian mutation. Read more on the Quebranta grapes here. According to modern Peruvian technical norms, a Pisco Puro is any pisco made of one single varietal, in other words a single blend like a Cabernet wine or a Chardonnay.
There are two types of Pisco Puro; aromatics and non-aromatics.
Pisco Puro Non-Aromatic
Must be distilled from one single non-aromatic grape varietal like the Quebranta, Mollar or Negra Criolla and sometimes Uvina (hailing from the valley of Lunahuana). The reason this pisco is classified as non-aromatic is because the grapes used have very little aroma when compared to their aromatic sisters. Their gift is not in the nose but in the mouth, meaning their splendor can be appreciated more so when tasted then when smelled. So, unlike a great glass of wine, where the nose is part of the experience of tasting, the non-aromatic piscos aren’t anything to write home about in the nose.
Pure Pisco – Aromatic
Again, a single varietal Pisco made with one of the following aromatic grape varietals; Albilla, Italia, Moscatel or Torontel. These grapes provide a great olfactory experience in comparison to it’s non-aromatic sisters. The aromas tend to be floral, fruit forward and in the mouth they provide an even further sensory experience.
Pisco Mosto Verde
This pisco is different due to it’s distillation process. To make Mosto Verde, the fermentation process is interrupted and then the juice is distilled. Normally, to make pisco, you let the fermentation process turn all the sugar content in the grape juice to alcohol. When elaborating Mosto Verde, you distill when there is still sugar present in the juice, which results in a product that is velvety and smoother on the palate. This pisco is usually made using Quebranta or Italia gapes but really you can use any varietal.
Acholado Pisco is a blend of two or more accepted grape varietals (aromatic or non-aromatic). The taste of any acholado varies by producer because there is no set way of production, meaning you can blend whichever varietals you want and you can use whatever percentage of each you would like. This is where the family recipes come into play, that have been passed down through the generations. Each blend of acholado tastes different due to the quality of grape and the way it was blended (before distillation or after distillation).