Pisco has made its debut in London with an undoubted success From 20th to 22nd May, Pisco was presented for the first time as category at the world's first trade event of spiritsbrands, London Distil 2008, where our national drink impressed participants with its versatility, variety and quality. Peru Today spoke to Johnny Schuler, President of the National Guild of Taster of Peru, about the success of the introduction of Pisco into one of the most competitive markets in the world.
Peru Today: How do you rate this first experience of ‘Pisco’ at an international level presented in an important fair, in a radiant stand and with the producers united to launch together the ‘Pisco’ name?
Johnny Schuler: I think we can summarize everything in just one expression: Pisco has made its debut in London with undoubted success. It could not be better. It is the first time that a well-thought out presentation is organised and for an important event such as Distil 2008. The presence of 18 producers who join efforts to come to London as ‘Pisco’ and not as independent producers was the most significant highlight. Although all of them were looking out for their own brand distributor, the effort was made and these businessmen from Peru have done a spectacular display of their brands in these hard-working three days. The stand was incredible, with a really modest budget collected by the Regulator Commission with donations and contributions from different institutions. The Pisco stand was the most important of Distil. Impressive, amazing, huge, beautiful, the colours, the presentation and that wall where we had between 120 and 130 bottles from different brands impressed everybody, not only consumers but also producers who were in other stands. Definitely, Pisco has been the ‘vedette’ (1) of this Distil.
And now, what would be the next step?
JS: The market has been identified; the top of the iceberg has been perceived. We entered London, a difficult market, a ‘cocktail’ market. I think what we have to evaluate is that unmixed pisco will not be established in this marketplace. English people are cocktail drinkers and we saw it at the stand. Even though we made hundreds or thousands of ‘Pisco Sours’ (2) during those three days, Hans Hilburg caused impact with his cocktails and his creativity with tropical and exotic fruits from Peru. He was the star of Distil. We have to follow that route without competing with spirits. For example, we will look for and support all barmen events, where I think Pisco caused enormous enthusiasm, as it was demonstrated in the workshop offered to 14 renowned London barmen by Simon Difford at his home, who were impressed with the versatility of pisco in the cocktail area.
Based on your experience, what should we improve for a second opportunity?
JS: I think that it will be difficult to go beyond these results because everything was well-organised. Actually, the success has been 100%. Pisco has been extraordinary; the producers have been courteous to customers. English consumers have given us the benefit of their visits, they have been captivated, delighted, astonished by the Pisco Sour. They loved it! The professionals of the distillers have been fascinated with pure pisco. We have a spectacular close in this event and we definitely have to repeat it again next year. During these 15 years I have been traveling around the world visiting these kinds of events, I am sure that this has been the most impressive. We sent a concrete message: firstly, Pisco has a wide diversity with 120 or 130 different brands present in the stand from around 500 in total. This variety was not shown by anyone in Distil, not even the biggest wine producer in England. Secondly, product quality: if we evaluate in our area, our competitor of the South had a bottle which has not caused any effect. Peruvian victory, Peruvian goal anyway; by that side we do not have any problems. And finally, the concept of dividing the stand in three bars: one for the ‘Pisco Sour’, the classic drink that we always have to push because is the icon of the Peruvian cocktails; another for Hans with his mixed cocktails; and the third one for Pisco tasting done by myself for trade people and professionals. I think that after all and for the first time, the Pisco presentation was done in a well-thought out and well-organised way and in fact it has been successful.
(1) Principal actress in a musical performance. Star of the show.
(2) Peruvian national drink which contains Pisco (Peruvian brandy), lemon juice, egg whites, syrup and bitter (Amargo de Angostura)
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