The Pisco Elqui village is located in the Elqui Province in the Coquimbo region of Chile, about 107 kilometers (66 miles) east of La Serena. Pisco Elqui is home to historic and modernized pisco distillery plants that offer guided tours, several hotels and restaurants, and a charming town square where local jams and crafts can be purchased. The small town is perfect for a short detour from La Serena.
The town of Pisco Elqui has gone through several name changes over the course of its history: First it was La Greda, then La Union, then by law decree No. 5.798 it became Pisco. The last change occurred in the 1930s and was intended to support Chile's claims in arguments with Peru over the alcoholic drink pisco—the two countries disagree about where the drink originated, and which country should have the right to produce and sell the alcohol. In Chile's early history, pisco was distilled in this region.
Travel to Pisco is relatively straightforward, as the small village with only hundreds of inhabitants is reachable by car from La Serena and makes for a lovely outing for travelers who have a rental car. Drive along the road to Valle del Elqui, and after passing Rivadavia at the 83rd kilometer, head toward the right to reach Pisco Elqui.
When considering travel to Pisco, be aware that there are several kinds of accommodations in town, ranging from hotels and guesthouses to campsites. There are also several restaurants in Pisco Elqui. In the pretty town square, palm trees offer shaded areas to take a break from the heat, and locals sell crafts and homemade jams and marmalade made from local fruits and herbs. Overlooking the square in Pisco Chile, you'll see the Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario with its high tower. This church was built between 1910 and 1922; more recently, it was restored in 2000.
If you're hoping to have a Pisco Sour in Chile, you've come to the right town. Near the Pisco Elqui main square and church you'll see the Solar de Pisco Tres Erres, the region's oldest pisco distillery. In the early twentieth century, this valley became the heart of the Chilean pisco industry, with many distilleries opening and producing pisco under individual brand names, including Hernández, 3R, John Wagner, Vergara, Tres Cruces, and Peralta. Daily guided tours and tastings are given at the modernized Solar de Pisco Tres Erres facility. During the tours, you can learn about both modern and traditional Chilean processes for pisco production. As the plant's name suggests, the distillery produces Tres Erres pisco. Near Pisco Elqui is another old distillery, Los Nichos. This privately owned distillery is 139 years old and also offers daily tours.
Depending on visitors' tastes, they may wish to time their travel to Pisco to coincide with or circumvent the Carnaval events, which take place in the second half of February. During the Carnaval festival, Pisco Chile becomes significantly louder and more boisterous, with numerous folk concerts and rowdy revelers. Hotels and campsites book up fully during this period, so be sure to plan your Pisco Elqui accommodation in advance if you plan to visit during this time of year.
With its old distilleries, quaint town square, and locally made crafts and foods, Pisco Chile is a great destination to add to your Chile vacation itinerary, especially if you are already visiting La Serena.