Conflicts between countries over who invented what first are not so uncommon, and Chile and Peru are a vivid example of this type of feud. In the case of Chile and Peru, the feud involves a spirit drink called pisco, which is made from grapes. You might have heard of it, especially the pisco sour version, as it has become quite a trendy cocktail that is now be enjoyed around the world. The thing is both Chile and Peru claim that it is their national drink and this has been the source of a series of spirited debates, literally, for many years now.
Not so long ago, the European Union acknowledged Peruvian rights over the drink regarding its designation of origin. However, this did not affect Chilean producers who continue to distribute pisco within national and international markets.
On the one hand, Chile’s claims, which apparently are based on several studies carried out by experts and winemakers, that there is a record of the fact that around 1733, pisco was produced in the Chilean region of Elqui Valley. It was also in Chile that the first label to distribute the drink was made. Moreover, this country claims that the consumption of pisco has been historically higher there than in Peru, linking this to the origins and tradition of the drink that they consider to be their own. Pisco can be found in many parts of this fascinating and eventful country, and Santiago is probably the best place to visit in the quest for the perfect piscola, which is the way this drink is mixed in Chile.
On the other hand, Peru states that this drink was actually produced for the first time in the Andean country many centuries ago, linking its history to the discovery of America, which entailed the introduction of some European products to the newly discovered territories. This included wine to provide for Catholic churches that were built in Lima who used this drink as part of their holy rites. Soon, vines were planted and wine production started with grapes adapting to the new climate and suffering some changes throughout this process. Eventually, what emerged was a new kind of grape, and it is believed that Peru became the main wine producer in the region during the 16 th and 17 th centuries. Pisco, which is a name that allegedly comes from a Quechua word, was used to refer to the clay barrels that contained the distilled spirit made from grapes that were theoretically produced in Peru since the 16 th century. This is one of the theories that support the Peruvian origin of pisco. Nowadays, visitors can find the best bars to have a classic pisco sour mostly in the capital city of Lima, which also hosts some great restaurants that serve exquisite, gourmet Nikkei, with its famous ceviche and chifa dishes.
To this day the debate continues, although both countries are by far the best producers of this wonderful drink, both Chile and Peru provide a unique experience in both cases. Travelers will have a hard time figuring out who is the truthful inventor of pisco, but they will surely enjoy themselves tasting this strong drink as they make their way across two of the most interesting countries in South America.