Chile irks Peru in old liquor dispute

Santiago (Chile) (AFP) - Chilean liquor makers riled Peruvians with a new study Tuesday claiming the classic drink pisco was invented in Chile, fanning a tense cultural rivalry between the neighboring countries.

The research presented by the Chilean Pisco Producers' Association said a document in the national archives in Santiago shows the drink was recorded as existing under that name in Chile in 1733, supposedly a century before the term was used in Peru.

"The documentary evidence establishes that pisco is a kind of grape liquor that was first made in Chile in the 18th century," the lead researcher of the study, Pablo Lacoste, told a news conference.

Experts in Peru, which like Chile is fiercely proud of the drink and the popular "pisco sour" lemon cocktail used to make it, were not impressed.

Regardless of quibbles about the naming of the drink, they claim that there are records showing the same grape liquor existed in Peru as early as 1613.

"What matters most here is the question of geographical location. The port of Pisco is in Peru" in the city that eventually gave its name and commercial designation to the drink, said Jose Moquillaza, a Peruvian pisco specialist.

The leader of the team behind the new research, Argentine specialist Pablo Lacoste, insisted Chilean pisco was the original article, distinct from other forms of "aguardiente" or "fire water."

"What they have in Peru is aguardiente, which is distilled," he told AFP. "What we have here is pisco."

Chile and Peru fought a war against each other in the 19th century. They also quarrel about which country discovered potatoes and which invented a caramel dessert known as a "Lima Sigh."

Despite the squabbles, Chile remains one of the biggest export markets for Peruvian pisco along with the United States, Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reported, citing local industry data.

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