As any resident of San Francisco will tell you, “Don’t call it Frisco!” But we’re talking spirits here, not the city, so I think we’re OK.
Pisco is a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored brandy first produced in the winemaking regions of Peru and Chile around the turn of the 17th century. It is made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit, as all brandies and cognacs are. It must be aged for a minimum of three months in vessels of “glass, stainless steel, or any other material which does not alter its physical, chemical or organic properties,” so wood barrels, which are used to age most other brandies, are off limits. It was developed by Spanish settlers as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain at the time. It had the advantage of being produced from abundant domestically-grown fruit.
San Francisco was the North American city that first embraced pisco, and residents drank a lot of it from the Gold Rush to Prohibition. Frísco’s (here pronounced ‘frees-koh,’ so the pun isn’t quite right) founder Charles O’Connell had an abiding love for pisco, and his goal of creating a sustainable, pisco-inspired, American-made spirit was realized in May of 2017. It is created from sustainably-farmed Muscat grapes from California, which are made into wine, double distilled in copper, rested in stainless steel instead of oak barrels, and then finished with unique charcoal mellowing – a technique rarely used on this type of spirit.
Frísco has a clean, full-bodied, yet delicately smooth taste with floral overtones, suggestions of tropical fruit, and just a hint of sweetness. 45% ABV.
Listen to my podcast about brandy, Cognac, and Armagnac here.
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