Heritage > Naxos Island

Naxos island is the inspiration for the first ever KORRES product. The biggest and most fertile Cyclades island in the Aegean, known as the hiding place for Zeus, the God of Sky and Thunder, till he reached manhood; also known as the island Theseus abandonded princess Ariadne on, after the killing of the Minotaur.

There is an old saying in Greece..“when you smell rakokazano, winter is coming”. Rakokazano or Charani in Greek is the wood-fired kettle used to distill grapes and produce Raki, a strong alcoholic spirit, much needed during the harsh winters on the Aegean islands. This traditional extraction process, known as Rakitzo, has been used all over the Mediterranean region for nearly 2,000 years. The KORRES rakokazano story begins in the middle of the 19th century with the great great grandfather of George Korres, Ioannis. It was then passed on from generation to generation ending up in the hands of George’s grandfather, the last to honour the family tradition of raki distilling. Eventually the rakokazano got lost only to be rediscovered by a Korres family member who still lives on the island of Naxos and arranged for it to ‘travel’ to Athens.

Ever since its return to the family ‘home’ the rakokazano is on display in George’s office; for George, the rakokazano tradition links back to the first KORRES product he has created, an aromatic cough-relieving syrup with honey and aniseed. Still a best-seller after all these years, that syrup was inspired by Rakomelo, the warming concoction of Raki and Honey which George’s grandfather used to make in his village, Skado of Naxos, and offering it to underage (!) George as a cold remedy in the winter days. For George the Rakokazano also symbolizes the exemplary, eco-certified organic plant extraction that KORRES has developed; the team traveled literally across the world to assess the contemporary plant extraction ‘know-how’ available and ended up designing in cooperation with the University a first-for-Greece unit combining various technologies, another testament to the brand’s obsession with quality and attentiveness to the smallest of details. These strong associations have led George to depict it as a symbol, featured today on the brand’s packaging.

Rakomelo / Rakitzo

It means ‘Raki and Honey’; Raki distilling in Greece is called ‘rakitzo’. It takes place at the end of September after the ‘moustopatia’, the crushing of the grapes to extract the must. ‘Strofilia’, the must, is then left to ferment or as the locals say ‘get angry’ in a stone basin for ten days. The preparation of the ‘charani’ the kettle, would start by breaking its seal. At the end of every ‘rakitzo’, the local police secured the kettle with a wax-seal, so as not to be used for unlawful alcohol production. The following year, the policeman would return to issue another permit for raki production and break last year’s seal. When it was time to start the distillation, the raki makers lit up the fire and placed the boiler on the ‘pyromachous’, the base that kept the boiler on the fire. Then, they would place some ‘marathies’, fennel stalks, on the bottom of the boiler to scent the distillate. Having half-filled the boiler with ‘strofilia’, they fitted the lid, and sealed it shut all around, using mud and cow manure, ‘svournies’. They used to fit one end of the ‘moula’, a metallic tube, on top of the lid, and run the other through a large narrow-end clay crock, the ‘birbinitsa’. The birbinitsa was filled up with cold water to cool down the ‘moula’ and allow the ‘strofilia’ steam to turn into raki. While waiting to taste the first batch, the so called ‘protoraki’, the producers grilled quince fruits, an excellent raki accompaniment. Once ready the raki would be stored in large glass bottles or clay crocks and kept in the house’s storeroom, the ‘magatse’. It would be used to make ‘rakomelo’, a warming spirit-with-honey concoction that farmers and emery mine workers took to work. It was also used on bandages to dress wounds and pads for comforting abdominal discomfort.

Grandfather's Recipe

The first KORRES product, an aromatic syrup with honey and aniseed, was inspired by ‘rakomelo’, a warming spirit which grandfather Giorgos Korres used to make in his village, Skado of Naxos.

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