Italy. Ah, I love Italy. The weather, the food, the people, but mostly… (not really mostly, but let’s not actually quantify how much I love it and whether I love it more than other things) the grappa. It is almost reason enough alone to engineer Italian holidays. Luckily for me, even when I can’t engineer such holidays, my parents might be going, as was the case earlier this year when I asked if they could find me a bottle to bring home. Naturally they worried about whether it would break in their luggage and… well, all kinds of things that didn’t matter, but they only went and bloody did it.
And here it is. It’s Pisoni Grappa Trentina Schweitzer. If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure I’ve got all the words in its name in the right order, but from what I can gather, Pisoni is the distillery and Trentino (Trentina? Trento?) is the region. It has 40 ABVs and cost 15 euros (and me 12 pounds, though I only had a tenner and I’m sure they’ll have forgotten about the other 2 by now). My mum told me she actually tried a couple of grappas at a restaurant (or winery or something) that they went to, and liked this particular one that had also been recommended to her. She didn’t know where to start, and that’s just fine because it’s still one I haven’t tried before.
What was immediately apparent was that the box is intended for another product because it’s too big for the bottle and has some interesting map-style artwork that doesn’t match to the modern art depiction of an opera (apparently – I don’t see it) that is on the label of the bottle. It’s nice enough though.
Let’s start with a direct comparison against my incumbent grappa, Poli Museo del Grappa… or something…
Pisoni – the label contains the kind of modern art smorgasbord that makes me think of cheap upholstery. The Poli, on the other hand, looks like something you’d buy in a gift shop near a popular tourist attraction. Pisoni is sealed with a stopper while the Poli has one of those clasp-stopper jobs. Anyone know what they’re called?
There’s a world of difference between the scent and flavour profiles though it can’t really be said that one is better than the other. The Pisoni has an odour reminiscent of tequila – earthy and more savoury, while the Poli is more floral and… I don’t want to say sweet because in actuality it isn’t more sweet though its flavour has more characteristics of something sweet than the Pisoni does. Does that make sense? Probably not. Nevertheless, the two brands and expressions are eminently comparable as they are essentially the same style – unaged, basic, classic.
Head to Head Conclusion
In terms of quality I just can’t pick between them. I can’t even say I prefer the taste of one over the other. What I can say is that neither quite offer the pinnacle of what unaged grappa can deliver – though in spite of this, their quality is comfortably acceptable and, while I’m placing them both very low down on my current grappa ratings chart, that is more a reflection on the particular quality of the other brands I’ve been fortunate enough to try so far – so it’s relative rather than absolute. Relative to each other, this represents the first time I’ve conducted a head-to-head where I’ve concluded both products are exactly equal.
Back to the Pisoni, as and of itself
I’ve continued dipping into this, little and often, and I can safely say it has represented it’s spirit genre with a reliable ease. I haven’t once had to ask myself, do I actually like grappa?- unlike the odd occasion when I’m not blown away by a renowned and sometimes expensive whisky - because it is obvious that I do and I still haven’t found one that has disappointed. If I could find grappa here in the UK for the kinds of prices you can pick it up in Italy, I think it might be all I would buy. Luckily for Italy, they have this as a huge draw to their tourism. In actuality, very few people probably go to Italy excited about the grappa they can collect, but I certainly do and I hope to be able to do so for many years to come.