Distillery: 3 Generaciones
Location: Ica, 300 km south of Lima. Ica is the region where most pisco has traditionally been produced, and where most pisco is still produced to this day.
Distillery founded in: 1856
Pisco Varieties: Quebranta, Mollar, Italia, Moscatel, Torontel, Albilla, Mosto Verde Quebranta, Mosto Verde Torontel, Mosto Verde Acholado.
Our favorite Pisco: The Mosto Verde Quebranta. Notes of apple, membrillo, raisins and a slight taste of apricot.
Consuelo is one of the 8 lucky shareholders of the 3 Generaciones distillery, which was founded in 1856. Up until 1979, it had been operated as an informal distillery. Then, Consuelo´s dad formalized things and began operating it as a business. And business indeed it is: as we´re discussing the distillery´s history over a cup of coffee in the distillery´s restaurant, tourists keep pouring in to visit the distillery and purchase a bottle or two of pisco in the distillery shop after they´ve done the visit. The distillery is actually of a decent size for a pisco business- Consuelo tells me that they have 14 full-time employees on payroll, and an efficient distribution network that sells in restaurants and bars across the country as well as large retail stores.
The business is prospering, to the joy of all the shareholders. But who are those shareholders? They´re simply Consuelo, her 6 siblings, and her father. Everything has stayed within the family, and is likely to stay that way in the future. In fact, 3 generaciones has recently expanded its distribution network, developing their very own distribution sales force, hiring a sales manager and rented a warehouse. For that purpose, they raised 80k Soles (around 23k USD), all financed from within the family. But it can be tough balancing family needs with those of a business.
Consuelo is currently General Manager of the 3 Generaciones Distillery. She shares the ownership of the company with her father and 6 siblings.
Consuelo explains that, to avoid creating tensions, when 3 Generaciones was formally established as a lucrative business in 1979, another distillery, named 3 Esquinas, was simultaneously established by one of Consuelo´s sister. The 3 Esquinas distillery operates alongside 3 Generaciones. Same family, two distilleries. This reminds me of Estela and Cepa Inka (see previous posts), wherein a mother and son decided it would be best for each to have their own distilleries. It doesn´t necessarily mean they´re at odds with each other, but simply that, for the sake of family harmony sometimes having separate structures is best.
The 3 Esquinas distillery, run by Consuelo´s sister, stands just across the road from 3 Generaciones distillery.
Whilst not everyone is involved directly with the business, most of Consuelo´s relatives have added their grain of salt to the venture. Most notoriously, Consuelo´s grandmother, Srta Juanita Martin de Gonzalez who´s husband had taught her the deepest secrets relating to pisco elaboration, and who was reputed to have an exceptional sense of smell. It was of course put to excellent use to taste the family´s piscos, and soon enough, not a single pisco would be sold unless it had first passed by Juanita´s nose and palate. She became known as "La dama del pisco" (The Pisco Lady). Today, she´s 86 years old but still drops by the distillery in production time to give her opinion on what´s being produced. It seems that, in all those years, her sense of smell has actually become sharpened, if anything. Other relatives help in other regards. For instance, Cecilia, Consuelo´s older sister, who´s apparently a very tough and astute negotiator, is in charge of negotiating conditions with distributors and clients. Another sister who´s living in New Jersey is helping the family to expand to the US market.
SOON ENOUGH, NOT A SINGLE PISCO WOULD BE SOLD UNLESS IT HAD FIRST PASSED BY JUANITA´ S NOSE AND PALATE. SHE BECAME KNOWN AS "LA DAMA DEL PISCO" (THE PISCO LADY)
So it seems that everyone is indeed helping out in the best way they can. But who runs the show? I ask Consuelo. "Ah! We´ve come up with a very simple and efficient solution: every four years, one of the family members is appointed as General Manager of the distillery. When his or her time is up, a different person steps into the role. This way, everyone is happy. We founds that four years is actually the ideal time since it´s sufficient for the person to really get a hand of the job, but not too long either so that other members of the family get impatient." One thing is sure, though. We´re in a business which is traditionally dominated by men, in a country where few business leaders are women. And yet, here we have 3 strong-willed, influential women within a single distillery, running the show, and keeping the boat afloat and heading in the right direction. And, most notably, La Dama del Pisco...
Ancient "Botijas" outside the distillery, records of pisco´s past. These clay pitchers were used to ferment the must, or rest and transport pisco.