Ouzo, a traditional Greek product, holds a special place in the heart of Greek culture, and Lesvos is renowned for its high-quality production.
Historically, it appears to have emerged in Greece as an evolution of another wonderful spirit, tsipouro, and for this reason, it was initially called “matavrasmeni”, which means redistilled. The name “ouzo” prevailed in the second half of the 19th century, and although it means nothing in modern Greek, etymologically it can be traced back to three words: the Latin word “uso”, which means “for use”, the ancient Greek word “όζω” which means “to smell” and the Turkish word “üzüm”, which means “grape.
Among other worthy efforts to protect Greek products is the decision to award Lesvos with two PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) designations, one for Plomari and one for Mytilene, which has helped in estab- lishing high-quality ouzo first in the domestic market and then, surpassing local borders, in introducing ouzo internationally.
Ouzo is an alcoholic beverage of distilled anise traditionally and exclusively produced in Greece. It is a high-volume distillate with a minimum alcohol content of 37.5% for Mytilene ouzo and 40% for that of Plomari. Organoleptically, its characteristics include the aromas of the ingredients used in making it.
The most prominent aroma is of anise, cultivated in the Lisvori region of Lesvos, or, to be more specific, of the dried ripe fruits of the anise plant (Pimpinella anisum rhomboidal). It is colorless and transparent; when mixed with water and/or ice, it turns milky. The alcohol that acts as the base for ouzo production is 100% pure agricultural ethyl alcohol, primarily derived from grapes, molasses, and occasionally grains.
When it comes to serving it, ouzo requires its own glass: a smaller version of a highball glass, also known as “σωλήνας”, or “pipe” in Greek.
Ouzo can be enjoyed neat and chilled, or with water and/or ice. For pairings, items such as smoked fish, shellfish, spicy cheese, black olives, tomatoes, traditional cheeses, or rice-stuffed zucchini blossoms are all outstanding choices.
Most of the prominent ouzo producers on the island are family-owned distilleries that have been producing ouzo since last century.
These are the most famous ouzo producers in Greece, offering a wide range of ouzo variations and showcasing the diversity and craftsmanship found in the region’s ouzo produc- tion. They are happy to provide visitors with an opportunity to explore and appreciate the nuances of this beloved Greek spirit.