Tsipouro. A traditional drink of the Greek countryside.
For centuries, it was the secondary product of viticulture and domestic wine production. It was what we might call the “poor cousin” of wine and it was always related to the life of the middle-class Greek.
Tsipouro was present in everyday moments of rural people, in joys and sorrows and it became a hallmark of the Greek hospitality.
The first reference to grape-marc distillate appears in Ancient Greece during the Hellenistic period, mentioning a drink named "trimma" which was produced by the boiling (distillation) of grape skins.
The art of distillation evolves during the Byzantine era at the monasteries of Agio Oros (Mount Athos), in Athos Peninsula.
The monks of Mount Athos initiated the monks of Meteora in the secrets of distillation, in a region where viticulture is witnessed since the Paleolithic Era. In the prehistoric cave of Theopetra, archaeological excavations brought to light grape seeds, among others.
Until the 15th century, the art of distillation of Tsipouro expands to surrounding areas. In Epirus, Macedonia, the rest of Thessaly, and Crete as well as in many other parts of Greece.
For many centuries, Tsipouro was produced amateurly by villagers as a way of reclaiming grape pomace, which would otherwise be discarded.
Merchandising of small quantities was allowed, always in bulk, within the county and neighboring counties, as any kind of bottling was forbidden, in order to enhance the income of farmers and residents of border regions. In 1883, the official Greek Government establishes the first law on the taxation of alcohol and in 1896 the first official licenses are given for the production of Tsipouro.
In 1989, with the relevant establishment of National and European legislation on drink spirits (Law 1802/1988 and Reg 1576/1989), production and bottling of Tsipouro is allowed to official distilleries.
The above legislative conversion resulted in a huge shift for the qualitative evolution of Tsipouro. It contributed significantly to the development of the culture of distillation and to the flourishing of Tsipouro’s industrial production. Thus, it changed dramatically the profile of the drink, which today is considered equivalent to international spirits. With the latest revision of the regulation for spirit drinks in the EU (Regulation 110/2008), Tsipouro is established as an exclusively Greek product produced from grapes which are grown in the Greek land and which are distilled within the country.
Tsipouro of Thessaly
Thessaly consists the fatherland of Tsipouro with a long historical tradition and the region with the largest producing Tsipouro in the country. Tsipouro with the geographical indication "Thessaly" is a recognized product from the EU with particular organoleptic characteristics. The Tsipouro of Thessaly is produced from grapes grown in Greece and distilled in official distilleries within the department. Well ripened grapes of aromatic varieties, such as Hamburg Muscat and Roditis, in combination with double or multiple distillation in discontinuous pot stills produce a distillate with a high aromatic profile, a full body and a soft finish. The flavoring of Tsipouro with fennel and anise was a regional tradition, although modern consumers show greater preference to the unflavored local Tsipouro.
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