The word Pisco comes from Quechua and there is some discrepancy about the meaning. Some say it means bird, while others say it means the fired clay pots in which the Quechua stored their chicha (a local spirit). According to one source, "many producers have modern mechanical presses but in some smaller outfits the grapes are still trodden."
Pisco, and the drinks made with it, have been popular for centuries. Both Chile and Peru have adopted it as a national drink, imbueing it with national characteristics and claiming their rights to produce it. Pisco is exported to other countries, and while not as universally popular in the US as it is in Chile and Peru, it was a favorite with nineteenth century Californians who enjoyed the drink imported to San Francisco from both South American countries.
In recent years, there has been an increasing dispute over which country owns the appelation of Pisco. The Peruvian Embasssy issued its Defense of the Peruvian Denomination of Origin "Pisco" - PDF. Chileans have responded with a spirited defense of their rights to produce and enjoy Pisco as a Chilean beverage. The Chilean Pisco industry began a massive campaign promoting the beverage as a traditional beverage. The Peruvian Pisco industry responded in outrage, citing Pisco as A Peruvian Tradition with the blessing of the Instituto de Defensa de la Competencia y la Propiedad Intelectual del Peru – Indecopi (Institute of Defense of Competence and Copyrights of Peru.)
The question of ownership is based on the fact that Pisco was first produced in Peru during the time of the Spanish viceroyalty. At that time, what is now Chile was a part of the viceroyalty and it was no problem to transport the vines and create new vineyards in Central Chile, with eventual production of Pisco.
Residents of both Pisco growing areas thought of the beverage as theirs. When Peru and Chile became separate countries, each country continued to produce and and drink Pisco with nationalistic enjoyment. Alcoholic content and sweetness vary between the two Pisco producing regions.
Enjoy these Pisco recipes!. Please imbibe responsively.