Introducing Macchu Pisco
Melanie Asher is a very close friend of mine from growing up back home in D.C. She and her sister Lizzie were born in Lima, Peru and now both are owners of Macchu Pisco Spirits. Both girls went to Duke University and then both headed to Harvard – Melanie for business school and Lizzie for law school. In between, like sisters who seemed to have done everything together, they also did stints at international corporate houses while still playing and traveling hard all over the world. What is pisco?
Pisco is Peru’s national spirit. Spirit aficionados technically refer to it as a grape brandy. For every-day consumption, we prefer to refer to Macchu Pisco, as a white spirit that is a cleaner alternative to vodka – Macchu Pisco is the only spirit in the world made without sulfites, added sugar or preservatives, so whatever cocktail you can make with vodka, you can make a purer version with Macchu Pisco.
This might seem like hyperbole, but because Macchu Pisco is so natural, we guarantee no hangover the next day. Together, Lizzie & Melanie have done a “clinical” trial in the kitchen making loads of Pisco sours, polishing off a bottle and waking up perfectly the next day! Currently, we have a no-hangover challenge on-going for our Facebook group. If you are an adventurous spirit who would like to undertake the morning-after challenge, join our Facebook group and we’ll send you a sample bottle so you can give us your feedback! ( By the way I did this challenge and the girls are right..try for yourselves).
And, so you can understand why we are so confident in the purity of our product you have to imagine the pristine environment south of Lima where our grapes grow, the Pisco Valley. This area of Peru is a desert that is irrigated by the waters melting from the Andean peaks and the moisture streaming from the adjacent Pacific Ocean. Our grapes grow in the desert oases that is blessed with 365-days a year of sunshine. This makes our grapes incredibly high in natural sugars, which allows us to produce products naturally with distinct nose and taste characteristics. How did you begin this adventure?
MacchuPisco LLC was founded immediately after Melanie graduated from Harvard Business School (HBS). Most people at HBS were naysayers – after all, she was a woman, in her 20s, going into a field dominated by men. But, her father was a big supporter and the first investor in the company. Melanie used the capital to head down to Peru and make the first vintage. Once there, she realized the potential of the grapes and their complexities so she decided to launch three different brands, Macchu Pisco,La Diablada and Nusta Pisco.
Macchu Pisco is a single-grape Pisco made from the Quebranta grape. Quebranta is the name that was given to the black grape the Spaniards brought to Peru close to 500 years ago. Once that grape was “broken into” the arid environment of the Pisco Valley, then it was baptized as “Quebranta” (coming from the Spanish word meaning to break “quebrar”.)
La Diablada, is our super premium blend of Quebranta, Italia and Muscatel grapes. Melanie, who deals mostly with the production side of the business, is the Master Blender of our products. Her taste buds are so gifted that our first year in the market we won awards not only in Peru but in various international competitions such as the London Wine & Spirits Competition.
Nusta Pisco is our crown jewel, selling in limited quantities and soon to be introduced to the US market this winter. So far, it has been gifted to Kings, Presidents and Dictators such as King Mohammed VI, President Bush and Hugo Chavez.
These awards were incredibly useful as they propelled our first market launch in London and then Paris four years ago. Since then, Lizzie, who is the company’s Brand Ambassador, has taken MacchuPisco and La Diablada to fashion shows across London and Paris, chaperoned their debut at the Cannes Film Festival and celebrated their showcasing in some of the best bars in both capital cities such as Claridges and the Costes Hotel.
As for future projects, we have our sights set on New York. As they say, once you make it here, you can make it anywhere! So, we hope to take over New York and start here our expansion West to San Francisco. After all, San Francisco was the first place where Pisco first made its entry into the US back during the Gold Rush in the 1850s in the form of the “Pisco Punch” which Mark Twain and many famous men drank. Duncan Nicol, the legendary bar owner of the Bank Exchange Bar (which is where the Transamerica pyramid now stands), first concocted the famous recipe he boasted had a secret ingredient. To this day, the world’s top mixologists aim to emulate the incredible alchemy he created and inspired Rudyard Kipling to describe the Pisco Punch as “the noblest product of the age, compounded of the shavings of cherub’s wings, the glory of a tropical dawn and the red clouds of sunset.”
Favorite Pisco spots?
Five Points - Marc Meyer’s cuisine and a fabulous Blood Orange Sidecar with La Diablada
Sushi Samba – what better way to accompany a Pisco Sour with a delicious ceviche
The Four Seasons’ Aujoud’hui hails a Honey Chamomille Pisco Cocktail – by Ari Bialikamien, winner of Harvard’s Wine and Cuisine Society Mixology Competition.
Eastern Standard, a bistro that puts a modern twist on a Pisco Classic
Restaurant Eve/PX – DC’s Premier restaurant chosen #1 year after year and its sister speakeasy bar are where you can get top notch Pisco cocktails.
Las Canteras – the best Peruvian food in the entire United States bar none! And, to match the diversity of Peruvian cuisine, the restaurant has an exclusive Pisco-based cocktail menu!
Challenges so far?
Our biggest challenge is spreading the Pisco gospel. Pisco is such an amazing product and we really believe that the world would be a happier place if everyone drank pisco sours! Right now, 9 out 10 people don’t know what Pisco is so we have a lot of education ahead of us, but we are two young female pioneers and have a lot of passion and believe in our product. Changing people’s drinking habits and capturing their imagination so they switch from drinking yet another vodka to a new magical product from the Andes, Pisco, is both daunting and exciting! Favorite restaurants in New York?
Bistro 33, which features French/Japanese fusion cuisine,