Our national drink continues to win international awards. This time it was the Demonio de los Andes pisco from Tacama Winery that, after defeating spirits and liquors from different parts of the world, was recognized as "the best clear spirit" in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USC), held on April 15 in New York in the United States.
Demonio de los Andes Acholado triumphed over competitors from 45 countries, such as Chile, Japan, Taiwan, China, France, Spain and Germany, to name a few. The distillate from Ica scored 96 points out of a possible 100, earning it the Chairman’s Trophy for its category. Meanwhile, Demonio de los Andes Quebranta finished runner-up with 94 points.
For Tacama, this award is a great recognition of their work, especially because it is the first time they have participated in this prestigious North American competition, which is renowned for being highly competitive, and where each product undergoes numerous evaluation stages through blind tasting. This award joins the nine other awards held by Demonio de los Andes Acholado pisco, including the National Pisco Contest (Peru) which it won in 2016.
Who was the Demon of the Andes?
Tacama named this distillate after the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Carbajal, who was known as the 'Demonio de los Andes' (Demon of the Andes) and took part in the civil war between conquistadors in Peru. History describes him as a great strategist who wore a helmet with chicken feathers that, according to him, "only a brave man could afford to wear". He was defeated in the battle of Jaquijahuana (Cusco), but he certainly didn’t lose his good sense of humor, so much so that when he was tried and sentenced to 100 deaths, he responded: "just one is enough."
One of Tacama's directors, José Antonio Olaechea, explains the choice of this character because "both he and the grape and the still –two vital elements for the preparation of pisco– remained in Peru. That's why we believe that, if he were reincarnated as a drink, considering his strength, vitality and sense of humor, he could come back as pisco," he said.
Peru's first winery
According to the historian María Rostworowski in her book Costa Peruana Prehispánica ('Prehispanic Peruvian Coast'), the lands of Tacama were owned by Quechua people from Cusco who used them to grow coca under the command of the Inca Pachacutec. With the arrival of Spain, Tacama passed into the hands of the Spanish crown.
In the 1540s, Francisco de Carabante created the Tacama vineyard –the oldest in Peru– with vines from the Canary Islands, and with the aim of providing wine to recently established churches. In 1776, the Spanish crown prohibited the export of wine, so the distillation of the grape began, which gave rise to pisco.
In April of this year, the brands Pisco Viñas de Oro (double gold medal and distinction for its Acholado pisco, 2017 vintage), Pisco 1615 (double gold medal for its Puro Quebranta pisco) and Pisco Don Benedicto (silver medal for its Don Benedicto Peña Mosto Verde Acholado pisco) managed to achieve further recognition for our national drink, thanks to the diverse prizes they received in the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers trade show, which took place in the United States.
In 2018, Pisco La Caravedo Torontel received the best score in the Ultimate Beverage Challenge, achieving 95 points out of 100. In addition, it won the award for best chilcano, the Chairman’s Trophy and the Great Value medal.
In the Superior Taste Award 2017, the Torontel Vargas Reserva Privada and Finca Rotondo Quebranta piscos each won three gold stars, making them one of the most highly-rated spirits in the competition's tasting history.
Did you know?
- The Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USC) was created nine years ago and is a pioneering spirits competition in the world. It gives awards to various spirits in order to maintain a high standard of quality internationally. 45 countries participated in this edition, a record compared to previous years.
Sources: Perú 21/ La República/ cocktail.pe/ tacama.com