Next week the 2017 Spirits Selection kicks off in La Serena, the coastal city which lies near some of Chile’s prime pisco growing regions. The international event includes 1,140 spirit samples from 52 different countries. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase the quality and growth of Chilean pisco, with the organizers already giving plenty of attention to the liquor of choice for most Chileans.
To be clear, this is not an attempt to poke at the ongoing dispute over pisco and its identity between Peru and Chile. That’s a whole other subject.
The event has been organized yearly over the last 17 years by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, the “United Nations of Fine Spirits” and features a judging panel of 70 individuals from 23 different nationalities. The judges score each sample on a scale of 100, and the top scorers in each categories take home grand gold, gold, silver and bronze medals. There is also a special honor for organic or biodynamic products.
The tastings take place with a strict protocol, and then even track the quality of award winners after the competition has closed and the medals are handed out.
Pisco has a long history that predates Chile and Peru, going back to the arrival of the Spanish to the continent. But it has maintained a very low profile for a very long time. Chilean pisco, probably even more so than Peruvian. The later has had a global network of restaurants to help promote the drink. But in Chile, it has had a profile which looks much different from its wine. Whereas most of Chilean wine is exported and Chile’s consumption is relatively low all things considered, pisco exports are low and Chileans put down piscolas into the wee hours of the morning.
In recent years, Chile’s own consumption has tapered off due to the entry of more rums, whiskey, gin, etc, and this has helped to push producers to produce higher quality products to compensate. Now you’ve had some brands, like Kappa or Waqar, that have received international attention, even beating out other white spirits for medals in international competitions.
So having the event here in Chile just helps to bolster the positioning of this grape brandy in the eyes of international drinkers and critics. Regardless of the final results, the competition has meant a major marketing opportunity, and brining these experts to Chile is another big step. Want to read more about pisco, its roots or production? A number of Chilean pisco experts have published articles on the competitions website on different specifics. (scroll down nearly to the bottom). Below is also a graphic with the disribution of the origen of the samples.
The event runs from August 22-24, we look forward to seeing the results!
Photo credit: Concours Mondial de Bruxelles