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Greek Spirit Spirit

While Greece is famously known for ouzo and raki, its alcoholic repertoire extends far beyond these two. The country's rich history, combined with a diverse range of climates and terrains, fosters the production of various unique spirits. From the luscious grapes yielding exquisite brandies to distilled spirits from sun-kissed fruits and age-old recipes, Greece's lesser-known alcoholic beverages deserve exploration.


Originating from the island of Chios, Mastiha is a liqueur with a distinct flavour profile thanks to the mastic tree's aromatic resin. This tree grows in the southern part of Chios and nowhere else in the world, making Mastiha a uniquely Greek spirit. The resin is harvested during the summer months, and its tears are used in the production of Mastiha liqueur. The flavour is uniquely refreshing, with its sweet aroma and a slightly pine-like taste with hints of citrus.


Tentura is a liqueur hailing from the city of Patras in Peloponnese. It's made from a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and citrus fruits, often including oranges or tangerines, mixed with alcohol and sugar. Tentura has a deep reddish-brown colour with a rich, warm, and spicy flavour profile that's perfect for sipping after a meal.


Though sometimes mistakenly thought of as brandy, Metaxa is a unique Greek spirit in its category. It's a blend of brandy, Muscat wines from the islands of Samos and Lemnos, and a secret bouquet of Mediterranean botanicals. The result is a spirit with a smooth, fruity, and slightly spicy flavour that comes in various ages, indicated by the number of stars on the bottle.


Tsipouro is a strong distilled spirit containing approximately 40-45% alcohol. It's produced throughout the country, with two main types: pure tsipouro and tsipouro with anise. Its production began in the 14th century among monks living in Mount Athos. Depending on the time of year, tsipouro is used either as a refreshment or as a hot beverage, and it is often served with meze (small dishes of various foods).


Mavrodaphne is a fortified dessert wine made from the grape of the same name. It's primarily produced in the Peloponnese and the Ionian Islands, particularly in the regions of Achaia and Cephalonia. The wine is dark, with a rich, sweet flavour similar to Port wine, and it's often enjoyed as an after-dinner drink.


Kitron is a citrus-based liqueur from the island of Naxos. It's produced by distilling the leaves and fruit from the citron tree, a type of citrus tree that has large lemon-like fruits. There are three varieties of Kitron: green, yellow, and clear, each with its distinct sweetness level, with green being the sweetest and clear being the least sweet.

These spirits reflect the cultural richness and diversity of Greece. Each beverage carries with it a piece of Greek history and an understanding of the local life and traditions. Whether sipped slowly in a chilled glass beside the sea or enjoyed as an aperitif before a meal, these drinks offer a taste of the sun-drenched Mediterranean landscape.

In the global spirits market, these traditional Greek beverages may not be as prominent as their Scottish or Russian counterparts. Still, they offer unique flavours and experiences for those willing to explore the diverse world of alcohol. They serve not just as drinks but as cultural ambassadors for Greece, showcasing the country's rich history, biodiversity, and ingenuity in alcohol production.

While ouzo and raki certainly hold their iconic status in Greek culture, the country’s assortment of traditional spirits offers a rich tapestry of flavours that are deeply rooted in the local terroir and traditions. For the adventurous palate, each of these spirits promises a journey into the nuances of Greece’s heritage, marked by unique ingredients, traditional distillation methods, and, of course, the Greek spirit of philoxenia, or hospitality.

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