Meet Pisco pioneer and entrepreneur, Melanie Asher. She's the award-winning master distiller and founder of Macchu Pisco. She's helped give this Peruvian spirit a renaissance, exploring more refined distillations and telling the world about them. She also makes one of our favourite drinks and the first ever vintage Pisco, La Diablada.
Melanie divides her time between Peru and Maryland, but runs every element of Macchu Pisco’s production personally, from selecting organic grapes to distilling the wine for three different Piscos. Her sister Lizzie is her business partner and her 100 year-old Peruvian grandmother encouraged her to "tease out" the fruity, floral flavours in her Piscos - a major reason behind their success.
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO AT THE MOMENT?
I am getting ready to travel back to Peru for Mistura, South America’s largest food festival, which happens in September. La Diablada and Macchu Pisco will both have a stand and we are anticipating 500,000 visitors of which 30,000 foreign visitors will be coming in from all over the world. I can’t wait to awe them with our maracuya (passion fruit) Pisco Sours!
GET HOME, FEET UP, WHAT'S IN YOUR GLASS?
A Macchu Pisco Chilcano (AKA Lima Mule), our version of the moscow mule. It’s not fussy and quite easy to make as I always have Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer in my refrigerator.
IF YOU WERE A DRINK WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
A Pisco Sour for sure! Every alcohol has its own unique buzz and the Pisco Sour makes you really happy and chirpy. [We can confirm this as fact - ed.] I have a very bubbly personality so I think it fits!
YOU CAN CHOOSE ANYONE TO TAKE A SEAT NEXT TO YOU AT THE BAR - WHO IS IT AND HOW WOULD THE NIGHT GO?
Benedict Cumberbatch! He’s professed himself to be a huge fan of Pisco so I fancy I could find him at one of London’s hip Peruvian restaurants! I would try to convince him to act in the sequel to Gangs of New York called The Barbary Coast, it is a tale by Herbert Asbury of the debauchery and seduction of the Gold Rush in San Francisco when the Pisco Punch (Pisco and pineapple juice) was the most decadent cocktail of the era. Historians say this drink of the 1850’s had another secret ingredient from Peru, hence its popularity! I think after a couple La Diablada Pisco shots we hope to bring him over!
SHAKEN OR STIRRED?
Does Blended count? That’s how I prefer to make my Pisco Sours...in a good old fashioned blender!
FINALLY, WHO WOULD YOU RAISE A GLASS TO AND WHY?
I would raise a glass to my 100 year old grandmother, Abuelita Amelia, to whom we have dedicated this year’s vintage La Diablada Pisco, it is called the Centennial Blend and if you get a bottle you will see her dashing picture on the label - she hardly looks a day over 80. Her resilience and good humour have made her a role model to me and my sister!