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Wine & Dine
Ouzo of Lesvos
From the ancient years until today, the human, trying to
create drinks with alcohol, was using scented herbals, fruits, roots, flowers and seeds,
at start with extract and fermentation, and later with distillation, with final purpose
to feel enjoyment, relaxation and drunkenness. However some distilled products showed and in the
Arabian world, the Byzantine culture of Constantinople (Istanbul), the Greek element of
Alexandria and Smirni.
The depositions of famous coppersmiths from Armenia and the
Pont, who made nice decorated distilling vessels, confirmed the deep knowledge of
distillation in all the Byzantine empire.
Plus all that, the blessing ground of Minor Asia and
Thrace, gave a perfect material, where dominated grapes and figs, the same time that the
cultivation of anise in Lesvos and Limnos and the production of mastic in
consisted the necessary elements for the production of raki.
Those professionals , called also rakitzides,
because they were producing a drink, distilled product from grapes raki sharing with
anise, scented herbals or mastic, which succeeded , after the period where drink was not
allowed in Turkey, to conquer the well-off class of Ottoman empire, giving to the best
rakitzides special privileges.
As it was expected, the quick spreading of that drink,
challenged the provisional deficiency of alcohol , and soon the solution in that
productive problem, gave the French and Russian clean alcohol.
However the ease which somebody could produce a drink of
that kind, mixing that clean alcohol with water, created quality problems, because the
final product wasnt distilled product but simple mixed.
For that reason in Smirni and Constantinople ports, in
every receipt of clean alcohol, they were adding a colored substance, fact that obliged
the payee in obligatory distillation before the use.
So, with that way, created ouzo, which went about
for many decayed in many Greek areas, with the old name raki. Its name became from
the alteration of customs term giouzo, which means for use and its believed
that it becomes from the Italian expression OUZO MASSALIA which means for use in
where the first charges directed. That inscription escorted parcels with raki which
destined in areas out of the borders of Ottoman empire.
With the destroy of Minos Asia, rakitzides coming in
Greece, where, mostly in Lesvos the distilling companies grew up rapidly. The emulation
between refugees and local distillers, create a great development in production and
consumption of ouzo.
In continuity, we are passing in the period of big
production and tough contest. distilling vessels and distilling methods deserted, making
everything very simple, lowering the quality of the product and the name of the distiller.
Today were living a reality which makes optimism. We
came back in the old good time, where the distilling vessel and unlimited possibilities of
our country, accompanied with knowledge, experience, profession and yearning, have called
up. Famous names offering great enjoyment in consumers, not only in Greece, but in all
over the world.
However, the tool of life, the distilling vessel , it was
difficult to be constructed. In 1932 coppersmiths of the Virgin Mary of Chalkeon in
Thessalonica, gave the solution in the problem. Copper is the only and necessary material
in creation and distillation of ouzo, which helps the uniform warming of alcohol with
anise, and it consists of defined factor, so the heat to be defused in all the inner
surfaces. Thats the reason why the way that its building demanding patience
and great means.
The classic traditional distilling vessel, is consisting of
three parts. The main trunk (a vessel where we put clean alcohol, anise and other herbals
for distillation), and the bow (a corridor where the steam will pass through), which
drives in a cooling pot (an external pipe in the same diameter with the bow, which has
cold water, and an interior pipe with the steam, which liquefied is transforming in
The facts about ouzo?
Its the drink which is discerned from a pleasant
aggressive that balances their scents, bringing revolution in senses and giving the sweet
remembrance and glee of every peculiar time in life. Just four
years ago, the admirable actions of some people, helped in fortifying ouzo,
tsikoudia and the distillation of Corinthian currant, as exclusive Greek products.
During the turbulent life of our island, ouzo accompanies
peasants and coastals in every moment of their life, giving them power, happiness, courage
and hope for a better future. However ouzo, which is certified the drink of revolution and
freedom , demands discipline at the time of drinking it, and attention in the way you
A good and balanced ouzo, may contents until 46% alcohol,
to be able to travel all over the world, unaffected from the climate and to be strong
against the affection of the time, keeping its aroma and the flavor.
We often observe, that when we add some ice or some water
in ouzo its color becomes white like milk. This phenomenon is the result of binding
anithole, one aromatic substance which anise have, and its considering as a sign of
Ouzo with anise, is drinking straight, or with ice,
accompanied with nuts, but mostly accompanied with traditional snacks as appetizer. So the
flavor of anise comes out, the composition of the drink getting bigger, and the taste is
getting softer and all the senses are charming.
The product of this Greek drink, that it has identified
with Greek soul, hospitality, the sea and the blue sky, is a difficult and interesting
art. The technique of distillation has a lot of agonies and great expectations.
Actually, the procedure until a glass of ouzo comes at your
lips, is long. However the satisfaction that youll feel after that, will efface the
tiredness of the big try which strived until that moment, from our distillers, the artists
- Lesvos island Travel Portal | By I.E.Mavridis@EURObitWEBs