Metaxa (Μεταξά) is a Greek distilled spirit invented by Spyros Metaxas in 1888. It is a blend of brandy and wine made from sun-dried Savatiano, Sultana and Black Corinth grape varieties. It is then blended with an aged Muscat wine from the Greek islands of Samos and Lemnos. It is exported to over 60 countries.
The production of Metaxa is comprised of several stages, the first begins with the double distillation of wine varieties (mainly Savatiano and Rhoditis) used for the brandy which are then kept in new oak barrels. Some of the distillates are kept in large barrels for further maturation of up to 30 years. The second stage includes the maturation of wine from Alexandrian and Samia Moschatto grape varieties. Maturation takes nearly two years, during this time the wine is kept in used Metaxa barrels. The result is a liquor with deep caramel color with very rich aromas. During the third stage a mixture of spices and distilled water is prepared and several herbal flavorings are added. The resulting mixture is left to blend for at least six motnhs then it is chilled and filtered. In the last stage the blends obtained during the first three stages are mixed in such a way as to maintain a constant quality, taste, color and aroma.
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 years the blend is matured. The three and 5 star are not as different, but the 5 star is notably drier, making the alcohol more pronounced. The seven and twelve star are more flavoursome and complex, while the twelve is again more dry, in this case because there is no addition of wine. In either of the two latter varieties, the smell and taste of the barrel in which the brandy matured is noticeable. The Grand Reserve is the most expensive and difficult to find.
The founder of the distillery was Spyros Metaxas, born in the island of Kefalonia. He created the first brandy and was involved in the foundation of the first distillation facility in 1888, a little over 50 years after the Greek War of Independence. The business was soon expanded with new factories in Constantinople and Odessa. In 1900 the first exports to the United States took place and the drink became known as "the flying brandy". Following Metaxas' death, his sons carried on his work. Metaxa 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. Nowadays Metaxa is the best known Greek spirit in the world.
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