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TSIPOURO: A really Greek product

Na fan ta lafia melathron
ki oi moules to trifylli
Ki o nios na piei palio krasi,
tsipouro metavrasmeno

ancient traditional song of “Tirnavos”
(Tzartzanos, articles and essays)

Definition: Tsipouro  is named the alcoholic drink that is produced from the distillation of marcs of uvula  and contains at least 140 gr. volatile substances and until 1000 gr. of methanol /HL alcohol .

Tsipouro was all long the drink of poor and lay people categories, it was that relaxing drink for the crummy farmer-winegrower, after the all day toil.

When the production of this started in Greece, is not known. There are many reports for production of tsipouro in the Mount Athos from 1590, as it seems from different Turkish firmans of that time.

Until 1988 the production was being made only from winegrowers who had (and have) licence for distillation for 2 days (2-days distillers) according to the law 917/1917. The distillation takes place at copper distil of capacity until 130 lt. By law, the winegrowers had the opportunity to distil  (without tax) the marcs of their grapes and to use the distillate for same consumption. It was also allowed to them to sell the additional tsipouro restrictively in the law or in coterminous laws always under control of the economical services.
It was and it is forbidden any standardization of the product from the 2-days tsipouro distillers.

All these things until 1988. Before saying what now days happens, allow to me a small historical recursion that will help us draw right conclusions and see what we must know.

It isn’t accidental that Tirnavos was in the epicenter of this tsipouro history.
The reasons are eminently historical and begin from the period of Turkish occupation.

Tirnavos was characterized as “vakoufi” and came under directly at the seriff of Mekka and not at the local commander, but enjoyed special privileges which helped to collect a big Christian element in the town and that was expressed with an economical and spiritual bloom that is confessed from all the European browsers of that time (Brown1669), (Leake 1806), (Pouqueville 1814) etc but we will use a testimony of a Turkish man, heathen of Evligias Tselempis, who at 1668 visited Tirnavos. He characterized it a rich town of faithless people, full of priests and monks with 18 chairs και and only 1 mosque.
But the important information is that in the way from Larisa, he counted 37 vineyards. It was expected near the strong Christian element for vineyards to grow and near them wine and tsipouro to be produced.

At the end of that period was when tsipouro named ouzo from the known fact(than Al. Filadelfeys and Ax. Tzartzanos report) that happened the last years of the Turkish occupation.
Some friends that were distilling tsipouro (Antonis Makris was drinking with Stavrak Mpeis at the cauldrom of Dim. Doumenikiotis) an unknown man for the friends tasted tsipouro from a new recipe (with 2-times distillation and aromatics of anise) said excited  “O…, What a beautiful thing. It is  USE MASSALIA” He wanted to express his excitement for the excellent quality of the drink he tasted and this is because that period in Tirnavos they were growing silkworm (cocoons) and the best of them were chosen and sent to Massalia in wooden boxes and outside of them it was written “use Massalia”. The expression so it was to show the very good and dialect quality of something. The name of ouzo that was nothing more than a good  anised, 2-times distillated tsipouro lost in the need of consumption, today we have the liability to not happen the same with tsipouro.

Nowdays we feel vindicated at least partly, because after many years of tries, tsipouro is in the place that deserves to it (…but we did not finished yet)

In 1988 a law was voted for the bottling of tsipouro and in 1989 another regulation voted 1576/89 for the alcoholic including the distillate of marcs of uvula (tsipouro), but without fortifying the word “tsipouro” for Greece, but only the composite names; ‘tsipouro from Tirnavos, tsipouro from Macedonia, and tsikoudia from Crete.

But this wasn’t enough, it was necessary to immunize the use of the word “tsipouro” only for Greece so that other countries won’t begin to produce drinks with the word tsipouro.
Tirnavos as the smallest area with name of geographical indication but also for its history, began the exertion for fortifying tsipouro for Greece, and with continuing memorandums to deputies, MEP and ministers we achieved, with the creation of this seamless national forehead, that in 1989 seemed to be impossible, the fortify of tsipouro in Greece according to the regulation 110/2008.

Success is communal, everyone helped with their way, the result vindicated us but also burdened us with liabilities.

The liability is that tsipouro must not lose its roots (like ouzo) To not lose the connection with the first matter.

Because it is and must continue to be a Greek product, a drink that is being produced from Greek grapes, a drink that has the Greek nature’s characteristics, the troll and the sweat of Greek producers but also the care of the distillers.

Tsipouro can become a drink, not only in a national but also in worldwide range helping effectively the viticulture. The looming dynamics of tsipouro, made us (us from the area of Tirnavos) to insist on the fortify of the name tsipouro exclusively in Greece, as Italia had already succeed the same thing for grapa from 1989.

The regulation allows the national governments to decide if the first matter participates in the configuration of the final characteristics of the dispilate.
This is what we must take advantage of and connect the first matter with the product.
Because only with this connection the goodwill will be transferred to the winegrower.
This means that tsipouro with geographical indication must be produced with grapes of that area. The signature of this regulation has historical meaning.

The geographical indications management is the management of Greece and every geographical indication must be denatured as a worth downwards, to them who produce the product.
In today's globalized world where borders will have increasingly less important role the thing that will delimit our country will be a row of products (feta, retsina, tsipouro etc) that will be produced exclusively here and will transfer the ecology, the clearness and their unique quality, our culture, our history, our tradition, cultivation tactics with them. Anyone who sells something with geographical indication, sells something from Greece, sells something from all of us and this cannot happen only for the same benefit.

We ask to be applied in the production (only for the geographical indication and not for the taxing)of tsipouro a trial balance of alcohol with an easy accounting way and this can only happen from the Ministry of Agricultural Development and food.

Tsipouro must (as also another distillates) of specific agricultural products stand out from the other alcoholic drinks because this will allow an application of Agricultural policy.

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