A History of Metaxa in a Minute

The Greek flavours of Metaxa stand out in this tasty gift
The Greek flavours of Metaxa stand out in this tasty gift | © Oliveology
Ethel Dilouambaka

When it comes to alcohols and spirits, there is much more to Greece than ouzo or tsipouro. Another lesser-known spirit that is 100% made in Greece is metaxa, a flavorful brandy-like drink, though it goes through a much more intricate process. Want to know more about it? Read on.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Metaxa is a specialty Greek spirit invented by a silk merchant named Spyros Metaxas in 1888. Marketed all around the world since then, this drink is often mistaken for a brandy, though it is actually a bit more complex than that.

Starting off as a brandy, metaxa is produced from locally produced Savatiano, Sultanina and Black Corinth grapes, then distilled twice to be sweetened later on with aged muscat wines from Leros and Samos and then blended with a secret botanical mix. At this stage, it is aged in hand-made oak barrels. Marketed as ‘the smoothest amber spirit under the sun’, metaxa is very flavorful, with a touch of sweetness and citrus notes.

White Chapel at Agios Isidoros, Leros, Dodecanese, Greek Islands, Greece, Europe

On the market, you can find it in three versions: three-, five- or seven-star, with each star representing the number of years that it has been aged in the oak casks. Nowadays, metaxa is sold all around the world, and the small, family-run business is one of the two Greek companies which survived both world wars. After its establishment in 1888 in Piraeus, the company quickly expanded and opened factories in Istanbul, Turkey and Odessa, Ukraine and, in 1900, metaxa made its first appearance on American markets.

Alcohol casks

Metaxa was actually sold as Cognac until 1937, when French producers restricted the appellation ‘Cognac’ to brandies made of specific grapes and using a specified distillation process. Another blow came when the definition of ‘brandy’ was altered to exclude spirits containing anything other than wine distillates.

After Spyros Metaxas’ death, his sons took over the business and expanded it; in 1968, the metaxa factory relocated to Kifissia, a northern suburb of Athens, where it still stands today. The company was then sold to British-owned Grand Metropolitan (now Diageo) and eventually was bought by mega-corporation Rémy Cointreau; despite now being foreign-owned, today it is one of the most successful alcoholic beverage companies in Greece.

Want to try your hand at creating a metaxa-based cocktail? Head to the Metaxa website and see if you can replicate some of their recipes.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
close-ad
Edit article