Metaxa Seven Star in its characteristic "amphora" bottle (*)
Metaxa (Greek Μεταξά) is a Greek distilled spirit invented by Spyros Metaxas in 1888.
The first production of the distillates begins with the distillation of various wine varieties (mainly Savatiano and Roditi) that after a double distillation are kept in cellars in relatively small, brand new, oak, of the limousine type barrels of 300-350 lt. usually made in France. Those barrels have wide pores serving therefore a more effective oxygenation of the distillates. Some of the distillates are moved in large barrels of 3 cubic meter volume to mature further and used for the main body of the blend. It will mature anywhere from 3 (the three star Metaxa) to 30 years for the Grand Reserve.
The mean time wine is being prepared for the Alexandrian and Samian Moschatto from the area of Samos, Limnos and Patras. The wine is maturing for nearly two years in used metaxa barrels. It turns to a deep caramel color with very rich aromas, from the moschatto with dominant the aromas of dried fruits, levanter, white roses and hints of various spices. Its flavor is rich and sweet.
The third part of the process is the most top guarded secret of the company and only a few people know the process and the precise recipe. A mixture of various spices and distilled water is prepared. To the base, the rose petals, spices and other herbal flavorings are added. The final product has a very complex and unique aromatic character that has aromas, of roses, pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon and nutmeg. This mixture is allowed to "marry" for at least six months, then chilled at -6°C for 48 hours, filtered, before being bottled.
Those three blends are mixed at the final blending in such a way that the quality, taste, color and aromas of the brandy are kept as constant as possible. Final steps involve the correction of the color and the balancing of the alcohol levels. Most of them are mixed with young Moschatto wine to mellow the flavor, end therefore they are slightly maturing when are kept in the bottle.
Types of Metaxa
Metaxa comes in five major varieties Three Stars, Five Stars, Seven Stars, Twelve Stars and the Grand Reserve. The number of stars represents the number of Maturing years. The three and 5 star are not as different, but the 5 star is certainly more dry making the alcohol more pronounced. The seven and twelve star are much more flavorful and complex, while the twelve is again more dry but that is because there is no addition of wine. In both cases you can literally smell and taste the barrel in which the brandy matured. The grand Reserve is the most expensive and hardest to find.
In Greece there is a 16 star version available. Additional varieties and collectors items, such as the Grand Olympian Reserve Celebration Edition, are available only in some regions. It can be served neat, on the rocks, or mixed (usually with sours).
History of Metaxa
The founder of the distillery was Spyros Metaxas, a historic figure in Greek history. In 1888, a little over 50 years after the Greek War of Independence, a young, enthusiastic, businessman thought that his tavern was not good enough. He wanted more elegance, more challenges. He created the first brandy and was involved in the foundation of the first distillation facility. He visualized a drink that would conquer the world and therefore he soon built new factories in Istanbul and in Odessa. In 1900 the first exports to the United States took place and the brandy became known as the flying brandy. Unfortunately death cut his life short, but his sons carried on his work. That brandy is the only Greek industry that survived the two world wars. In 1968 the factory was rebuilt and, although it consists of state-of-the-art equipment, its output tastes the same as from the traditional method.
Metaxa won over the toughest critics and has earned a respected position in the pantheon of fine spirits. In 1989 the company was bought by the British drinks group Grand Metropolitan (now re branded as Diageo) and was later sold to the Remy Cointreau group .
* Fidel Castro met with Spyros Metaxa on his trip in a ship to the United States. Metaxa was transporting brandy for him at the time Fidel was moving to Cuba to start his revolution. They both had a shot of the fine spirit and thereafter Fidel became fan of Metaxa.
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