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The Spirits of Greece

As the wine industry grows in Greece, so does the amount of left-over skins, seeds, and stems from the production. It takes about 5 hectares of grapes to produce about 10,000 bottles of wines, which leaves tons of recyclable material. Most viticulturists and winemakers, prefer to reuse the material in their biodynamic cultivation, by drying it out and blending it in their fertilizers, but most will actually sell off their left-over material to distilleries for the production of apostagmata, a process where the ingredients are boiled in a pot still, which then evaporate and drip into a separate container converting into a spirit base.

At this point, this is what we call ‘apostagma’, which has been produced throughout Greece for centuries. Examples of apostagmata are tsipouro, raki, ouzo, rakomelo, ouzo, and more. The significant increase in wineries throughout Greece has led to plenty of skins ready to be converted into apostagmata. And since the demand of apostagmata has increased over the years, we are now seeing an increase in distilleries.

Even though apostagmata are clear in color, you can sense that grape that is produced from as the aromas linger over the glass. The Moschofilero apostagmata release hints of zesty and citrusy aromas that lead into very clean and crisp flavors with a slight tingling sensation on the finish. The Agiorgitiko apostagmata will release a more berry bouquet, indicating nuisances of a red grape, and providing also very clean and smooth flavors.

As the industry evolves, we have begun to see the introduction of barrel aged tsipoura that take on a whole new dynamic. This new category is very new to seasoned palates of apostagmata, so it may take a bit before it becomes an acquired selection. Stylistically, they tend to have sweeter aromas with a hint of spice and rounder textures on the finish. We are beginning to see more selections entering the market and we recommend trying one. Some recommendations are: Tsililis Dark Cave 5 year, Katsaros Oak Aged 5 year, Lazaridis Methexis 10 year, and Parparoussis 6 year.

Apostagma is a great drink to enjoy with friends while socializing and accompanied by a refreshing glass of water or is a great pairing with a variety of different ‘mezedakia’. Spirit pairings with food have become very popular in some of today’s finest restaurants, but it is very common in almost any taverna in Greece.

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The ‘Scotches’ of Greece – Barrel Aged Tsipoura

I am pretty sure we’ve had an experience or two of some homemade tsipouro or raki that felt like razors on the way down. Or maybe, our parents smuggled a bottle or two in plastic Coca Cola bottles from the ‘Horio’ on the way back home. But since then, the production of these distillates have progressed into award winning productions that can compete with any other world class selections like Grappa, Scotch, Tequila, and even Cognac.

The evolution of high quality spirits production from Greece has progressed immensely over the past ten years. Prior to this evolution, Greece was mainly known for ouzo on a global scale. Now, producers are experimenting and exploring with various indigenous botanicals, grape must, and barrel aging methods that take tsipouro and raki to another level. The recent methods of barrel aging these distillates have developed aromatic and very smooth results.

You can now sip these barrel aged tsipoura like a fine single malt Scotch. Producers from all over Greece, are starting to include barrel aged tsipoura to their offerings. Producers such as Domaine Lazaridis, Katsaros Distillery, Parparoussi’s Winery, Tsililis Distillery, and more have taken the lead in these productions. There is one other production to keep an out for that is making some noise as the most refined selection, called Ambelon. Ambelon makes small batch production with probably the smoothest textures and flavors and ranges in the $400 per bottle range.

Stin Ygeia Sas!

Visit our collection of barrel-aged tsipoura on Greekazon.com