Livio Pastorino

"The strength of Pisco lies in its quality."

While talking to a friend who imports Pisco in Vancouver, Canada, he mentioned how difficult it was for him to enter the market. The sale of alcoholic beverages in Canada is restricted, and licenses are granted by the government. In this case, my friend is located in Vancouver, which belongs to the province of British Columbia.

He said that once he obtained the license, he went to sell to the stores. In many of them, he found that they already had brands of Chilean distilled spirits. "But that's not Pisco!" he told the store owner. The owner responded, "What does it say on the label? Pisco! it or isn't it Pisco? Besides, yours costs more than double. My customers don't care whose Pisco it's. They just want it to be good & cheap. That's what sells."

As you can see, discussing history, the word Pisco, or what it represents for us is not important. What matters is the business aspect. The merchant isn't interested in knowing the product, probably because it does not represent a significant sale. Even my friend had not set a price yet, but he was warned that "yours costs more than double." Apart from the price, another obstacle is that they are not familiar with Pisco. Therefore, there's a need to invest in promoting it.

Moving on, another importer contacted me through the Pisco website, a Frenchman married to a Peruvian, requesting information on Pisco brands to take to the south of France. In these cases, the Piscos I recommend are those that have received the highest scores in blind tastings in the Pisco Tasting Evenings group (Noches de Cata con Pisco

Shortly after, he wrote to me indicating that he had not chosen any of the brands I recommended. In fact, he chose one that I would not recommend. "Why?" "Livio, I appreciate your recommendations, but I cannot buy at those prices. I need a price that allows me to enter the market to position myself. The product is not known here. Later on, I will consider those brands. I have good contacts with top hotels to place those Piscos. I asked for a price: US$5.00 per liter."

Undoubtedly, only the large distilleries can sell at those prices, while the medium and small ones have a hard time doing so. However, in my experience in Pisco tasting, the best ones come from medium and small distilleries. Out of approximately 500 authorizations for the use of the Pisco Appelation of Origin in the five Pisco-producing regions, only ten are large distilleries, and the rest are medium and, above all, small ones. The latter cannot compete with a price of US$5.00 per liter.

How can medium and small producers access the international market with better prices? First, let us be clear that "the strength of our Pisco lies in its quality." That's where we should start, but we must ensure that quality, which can be achieved, for example, by using panels of judges duly standardized by the associations of tasters in Peru. The issue of chemical analysis isn't up for discussion; it's a sine qua non requirement.

Offering a product that includes on its label, in addition to the respective authorization for use, the guarantee of having been evaluated by a group of accredited judges with over 10 years of experience, would place our distilled spirit above any other premium product, ensuring limited production. Let's be honest, Pisco will not have production in the millions of liters like Tequila, our product is a boutique product and that is what we should aim for. The strength of Pisco lies in its quality. Enjoy pisco responsibly.

Til next time! 

By Livio Pastorino Wagner Sommelier, Specialist, and Pisco Taster Registration: CRDO-PISCO 2020 RCO-034-2011

Cocktail Magazine No. 27, december 09, 2019.

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Pisco & music


December 2019


Where pisco is the only protagonist!
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