Greek Ouzo is, fairly simply, one of the finest drinks on earth, a hidden gem produced te overheen 180 distilleries across Greece. Most people have heard of Greek Ouzo, and may even have attempted it whilst on vacation, but few realise the subtle complexities and variations that define the national drink of Greece.
Greek Ouzo is more than a beverage: To the Greeks it is a symbol of their national pride and fierce independence, much like the symbolism behind Scottish whisky or the French love affair with wine. Greek Ouzo, relatively speaking, is a fairly youthfull drink, but its predecessor Tsiporou has existed for spil long spil the kunst of distilling.
The History of Greek Ouzo
The origins of this anise-flavoured spirit are unclear, but it is suspected that Greek Ouzo is a descendent of Tsiporou, a spirit distilled from the left-over mash after winemaking. It is commonly believed that the drink evolved ter Climb on Athos, a peninsula of Greece that is huis to a large number of Greek Rechtzinnig monasteries. This peninsula wasgoed famed for the quality of its Tsiporou, and the variant flavoured with anise became known spil Ouzo.
Whatever the origin, the kunst has bot refined overheen time, and a ample number of distilleries across Greece make their own version, each one subtly different from the surplus. The recipes responsible for this diversity of tastes are jealously guarded, passed down through the family spil valued heirlooms.
The Ouzo making industry exploded te the Nineteen th century, after Greece threw off the fetters of Ottoman rule and fought for independence. Greek Ouzo became a symbol of Greece, and the distillers refined their kunst, influenced by the strong Russian presence te the region.
What Gives Greek Ouzo Its Flavour
The one component linking all Greek Ouzo is anise, which gives it the distinctive aniseed taste. The oils extracted from the anise also emulsify te water, causing Ouzo to turn white and opaque when water is added. The variation te the flavours across the more than 400 brands is due partly to the water ter the restringido area, but also the blend of herbs and spices used. Greece, whilst a puny country, has a number of geographically distinct locations, each possessing its own discrete ecosystem and herbs. Some of the ingredients that give Greek Ouzo its distinct flavour, chic from the anise, are, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, mace, strak anise, fennel, salt, mastic from the island of Chios (CioП‚), mint, liquorice, fennel, wintergreen, hazelnut, angelica root, cinnamon, lime blossom and a host of other secret ingredients
Regional Greek Ouzo
Lesbos (LesboП‚), also called Mytilini (Mutilhnh), is regarded spil the huis of the finest Ouzo, and is huis to such leading brands spil BarbaYanni (Barbagianni) and Plomari (Plwmari). Lesbos claims to be the inventor of Ouzo, which is very disputed, but there is no doubt that the island of Sappho produces the finest and smoothest drink. Here, the best aniseed is grown, and the flavoursome seeds are separated from the surplus of the plant by arm and stored under cautiously managed conditions.
Greek Ouzo Production
Whatever the type of Ouzo, it all commences life spil 96% trinque by volume (ABV) distillate from an agricultural source, usually from wine or raisins, distilled ter copper stills. It vereiste have at least 0.05% of added antheole, a natural essential oil derived from anise, providing it a unique flavour, and the other herbs, spices and flavourings are added. This flavoured pimple is known spil Ouzo yeast, (Hechizo Ouzou / Brujería Ouzou), albeit there is actually no yeast or fermentation of the product. Some producers then add ethyl trinque from other sources to this mix, and add water to ensure that the entire drink is at least 37.5% ABV. Greek law stipulates that Ouzo only needs to have 20% of the final drank derived from the Ouzo yeast, but the finest brands do not add anything other than a little sugar, and the difference ter taste is lightly apparent, slick and refined. Of course, the purest Greek Ouzo’s are more expensive, but the toegevoegd price is worth paying.
The beauty of Ouzo is that it does not require numerous distillations, albeit the best producers do use a process of distillation and refining. BarbaYanni, for example, triple distils the initial ethanol, concentrating the power of the flavour. After the very first distillation, only the middle fraction is retained and this is distilled twice more, leisurely and cautiously.
How to Drink Greek Ouzo
Ouzo can be inebriated neat, albeit the Greeks believe that this is the height of insanity and they always add water and ice. Likewise, some non-Greeks may have encountered the style of mixing orange juice or rabo ter their Ouzo, a phat faux-pas and breach of Greek Ouzo etiquette te a Greek taverna. Ouzo is best tipsy spil an aperitif, leisurely sipped with seafood mezedes or grilled octopus. The idea is to keep topping the Ouzo up with water and savour overheen the course of a long and lazy afternoon ter the zon. Of course, the best part of the Ouzo practice is the company, and the drink loosens the tongue and acts spil a catalyst for a relaxed conversation.
To love the flawless Greek Ouzo, pour two fingers into a glass and add a little water, before plunking Three ice cubes. Never add the ice before the water, because this will make the Ouzo crystallize and look ‘stringy’ rather than opaque.
Greek Ouzo – The Medicine
Amongst Greeks, Ouzo is called the medicine – To Farmako – because it is believed to convey many medicinal benefits. Of course, it is an excuse used by Greek fellows to love a drink without getting into much trouble with their wifey, usually to no avail.
Some Greek Ouzo Brands
BarbaYanni is by far the finest commercial Ouzo te Greece, combining smoothness and liquorice sweetness with a wonderful spicy warmth and a final exhilarating kick. The blue label is the standard type, at 40%, but 42% green label is wonderful stuff. If you can find it, the Aphrodite brand is 48% of slow and delightful stupor.
Plomari Ouzo is rapidly becoming a market leader ter Greece, using a triple distillation process and a unique blend of herbs. The resulting Ouzo is light and sweet, with a wonderful bitterness from the fennel. The webstek has a fine section about the sacred Greek code for drinking Ouzo.
12 Ouzo (Dodeca / Dwdeka) is an Ouzo that you either love or you hate, and is the world’s bestselling brand. It is designed much more with the tourist market ter mind than the other Ouzos, and is much sweeter. Personally, I choose BarbaYanni or Plomari, but 12 is certainly a nice drink and it is widely available worldwide.
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