METAXA (Greek: Μεταξά) is a Greek Amber spirit created by Spyros Metaxa in 1888. It is a blend of wine distillates, Muscat wines and a secret bouquet of rose petals and Mediterranean herbs. It is exported to over 60 countries and was the first liquor consumed in space.
The first part of Metaxa production of begins with a double distillation of several different wines (coming mainly from sun-dried Savatiano, Sultana and Rhoditis grapes). The resulting distillates are kept in cellars in relatively small, brand new, 300–350 L limousine oak barrels, usually French. French barrels are considered more desirable than those made in North America due to the fact that French Oak has smaller pores than its American counterpart. This slows down the transfer of flavour between the barrel and the liquor contained within it, resulting in a more subtle and refined end product. Some of the distillates are moved in large barrels of 3 cubic metre volume to mature further. These are then used for the main body of the blend. The maturation period can be anywhere from three (the Three Stars) to 30 years (the Grand Reserve).
In the second part of the process, which happens in parallel with the first, wine from the Alexandrian and Samian Moschatto white-wine grape variates coming from vineyards of Samos, Limnos, and Patras is maturing for nearly two years in used metaxa barrels. It gains a deep caramel colour with very rich aromas, characteristic of moschatto wines. These include aromas of dried fruits, lavender, white roses and hints of various spices. The resulting flavour is rich and sweet.
The third part of the process is the most closely guarded secret of the company and only a few people know the exact process and the precise recipe. A mixture of various spices and distilled water is prepared. Rose petals, more spices and other herbal flavourings are then added to the mix. The final product has a very complex and aromatic character consisting of aromas of roses, pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon and nutmeg. This mixture is allowed to develop its flavour for at least six months. It is then chilled at -6°C for 48 hours, and filtered.
These three blends are mixed at the final blending stage in such a way that the quality, taste, color and aromas of the brandy are kept as constant as possible. This involves the correction of the color, the balancing of the alcohol levels.
METAXA Stars Range: composed of 3 Stars, 5 Stars, 7 Stars, 12 Stars. The number of stars represents the number of years the blend has matured in cask. The main difference between the 3 Stars and the 5 Stars is that the latter is noticeably drier, making the alcohol more pronounced. The 7 Stars and the 12 Stars are more flavoursome and complex. In Twelve Stars the taste is more complex: oak barrels in which the brandy matured is very noticeable. The 12 Stars version is now distributed internationally.
Metaxa is traditionally served straight up neat, with on the rocks, with tonic or mixed (usually with sours). It is also used as a basic ingredient in several cocktails such as Alexander or the "Greek Mojito"
METAXA Reserve Range: composed of METAXA Private Reserve & AEN METAXA. Metaxa Private Reserve is one of the oldest member of the Metaxa family. Only 5,000 numbered decanters of METAXA Private Reserve are on the market containing distillates aged for 30 years from Spyros Metaxa's family barrels.
The Specialities: composed of Grande Fine and Ouzo by METAXA, and Grand Olympian.
Special Edition: the AEN
In 2008, the House of Metaxa launched a unique and limited edition, the AEN METAXA, celebrating 120 years of the House history. For this occasion, and for the first time in METAXA's History, 1888 crystal decanters were filled solely with the precious liquid of Cask No.1 of the METAXA cellars. The Cask No.1, also known as "Spyros' cask" among the workers of the METAXA cellars, is the oldest among the many thousands of barrels of the House of Metaxa. It is the first oak limousin cask that Spyros Metaxa filled in with his eau de vie back in the 19th century. The Cask No.1 has spent more than eighty years blending and maturing its content and that's why the name AEN was given to this reserve. As AEN in ancient Greek means forever it symbolizes the eternal rejuvenation and continual blending process in Cask No. 1. AEN METAXA is the most aged product ever to be released by METAXA. It was packaged in Crystal de Sèvres decanters with a gold painted stopper and the retail prices easily exceeded the $1,000 reference price. Only 1888 (1888 was the year the House of Metaxa was founded) decanters of AEN METAXA were produced and sold internationally.
History of METAXA
The House of Metaxa was founded by a greek merchant and entrepreneur: Spyros Metaxa, born in the island of Euboia. He created the first greek 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 Istanbul and Odessa. In 1900 the first exports to the United States took place and the drink became known as "the flying brandy".
Following Spyros Metaxa's death, his sons carried on his work. METAXA is the only Greek industry that survived both World Wars. In 1968 a new factory was built in Kifissia, Athens.
The label shows a Salamina Warrior(Salamina fighter), a figure of an Ancient Greek trireme that was carved on a coin of that period, found during the excavation of the first factory in Piraeus in 1888.
The House of Metaxa has won several gold medals in international spirit competitions, showcased in many of its bottles. In 1989 the company was bought by the British drinks group Grand Metropolitan (now called Diageo) and was later sold to the Remy Cointreau group.
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