Friday, 24 February 2012

Presenting...Pisco and Arrack (I know, what?!)

Callooh Callay’s first Tasting Tuesday of 2012 was a little off the cuff, a change from the polished brand ambassadors who know frankly everything you throw at them. But this was new territory for me and as a virgin Pisco/Arrack taster I had no idea what I would find in my glass.

We started with Ceylon Arrack, here are the facts:

-          spirits distilled from coconut appendage sap caught in clay pot
-          takes 5 to 6 tress to get enough sap to distill for one bottle
-          the guys climbing up the tress for your drink are called toddy tappers
-          this version comes from Sri Lanka though there are various national versions
-          it starts fermenting almost immediately with no yeast added due to climate

Ceylon has been in production since 1924 and is produced using the continuous still method. There is no set aging but average is 3 years in Sri Lankan wood. This is dense and impenetrable, similar to using steel. It does not impart anything but allows the product to harmonise and mellow.

Colour: pale straw

Nose: slightly meaty, powerful, almost old claret like, spicy

Palate: slightly meaty, malty, strangely fresh

Mixed with coconut water: palate softens, adds sweetness but nose becomes even stronger

It is not like anything I have had before, almost incomparable, but I am not sure that I will be ordering this at a bar anytime soon but if you fancy trying it mix with ginger ale

Then we moved onto Aba Pisco, this one coming from Chile and alternative versions from Bolivia and Peru:

-          distilled from wine of Muscat grapes
-          Aba is only made with the juice – no skin, no stalks
-          similar to cognac or grappa
-          takes 10 kg grapes to make one bottle

So this spirit is dsitlled twice to 60-70% and is allowed two months to settle and breath; French oak aging is now going on within the Aba brand. It is then diluted (as opposed to distilled like in Peru) down to 40%.


Nose: Floral, grapey like a Southern France sweet wine, honey, pear, honeysuckle

Palate: Spicey from alcohol, grapey, melon, honeysuckle, honeyed pear, soor ploom notes

If you fancy trying this one what about a Pisco Sour

3 parts Pisco
1 1/2 parts lemon juice
1 - 2 tbsp sugar

Add all ingredients to a mixer with ice. Shake well (until ice is melted) and serve

Many thanks to for putting this on

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