Metaxa (Greek: Μεταξά) is a Greek spirit invented by Spyros Metaxas in 1888. It is exported to over 65 countries and it is among the 100 strongest spirit brands worldwide. 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 Aegean islands of Samos and Lemnos. Metaxa is traditionally served neat, on the rocks, with tonic or mixed (usually with sours) and it is used as a basic ingredient in several cocktails such as Alexander or the "Greek Mojito".
The House of Metaxa was founded by a Greek merchant and entrepreneur named Spyros Metaxas, born on the island of Euboea. The name "Metaxas" means "silker". 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 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". Metaxa became an instant success in the US spirits market where it sold 36,000 cases in 1916.
Following Spyros Metaxas's death, his sons carried on his work. In 1968 a new factory was built in Kifissia, Athens.
Metaxa, one of the few surviving Greek brands past the World Wars, was founded in 1888, the same year as Karelia Fine Tobaccos SA was founded in 1888.
The House of Metaxa has won several gold medals in international spirit competitions. Among them was the Grand Prix in 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Metaxa was the official Sponsor of 1982 FIFA World Cup held in Spain. Metaxa has been an official supplier of many of European royal houses. In 1989 the company was bought by the British drinks group Grand Metropolitan (now called Diageo) and was later sold to the Rémy Cointreau group.
“Metaxa starts out like a brandy, with a variety of distillates made from dry white wines from different parts of Greece. After periods of ageing in oak casks, the distillates are blended and mixed with a small amount of rich muscat wine from the Greek Aegean Islands of Samos and Lemnos. Finally, some special Mediterranean herb and floral extracts are added – a secret recipe apart from rose petals.”
Metaxa's smoothness comes from its Muscat wine. The resulting distillates are kept in cellars, in limousin French oak barrels. French barrels are considered more desirable than those made in North America since French Oak has smaller pores than its American counterpart. This slows the transfer of flavor between the barrel and the liquor contained within.
Metaxa comes in nine major varieties: Three Stars, Five Stars, Five Stars Honey Shot, Seven Stars, Twelve stars, Grande Fine, Private Reserve, Angels Treasure and AEN. 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[opinion], while the Twelve-star G.O.R. 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[opinion]. The house of Metaxa has recently launched a new product, the Metaxa Twelve Star containing distillates matured for 12 years adding Muscat wine from the island of Samos, unlike the Metaxa Twelve Stars Grand Olympian Reserve. Metaxa Private Reserve is the oldest member of Metaxa label. Only 5,000 numbered decanters of Metaxa Private Reserve are on the market containing distillates aged for 30 years from Spyros Metaxas' family barrels.
In 2008, Metaxa launched a special Reserve, the METAXA AEN, celebrating 120 years of the brand. For this occasion, and for the first time in Metaxa's long history, 1888 crystal decanters were filled solely with the liquid of Cask No.1 of the Metaxa cellars. Metaxa AEN is the oldest product ever to be released by Metaxa with blends of over 80 years old. Packaged in Crystal de Sevres decanters with a gold painted stopper, the retail prices often exceeded the 1,000 USDbenchmark as only 1888 decanters of AEN METAXA had been available worldwide.
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