Tsipouro is Greece’s famous ‘firewater’, known for its strong alcoholic taste. Distilled from grapes, pits, stalks, and skins of the fruit, the production of Tsipouro, is said to date back to around seven centuries ago in Mount Athos.
Dorodouli Distillery, which is located in Thessaloniki, is a family-run company specialising in the production of Tsipouro. They were inspired to launch their product in 2014, after many years of playing around with a secret family recipe, which goes back at least four generations. The popularity of their product is based on combining traditional, authentic, and ancient methods with modern techniques and sleek branding- which has seen their Tsipouro label rise to international fame. It has been very well received in many parts of the world – especially Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.
Not only is Dorodouli Tsipouro being exported overseas, but each year thousands of international visitors are making their way over to the distillery to learn more about the process of how this alcoholic drink is made and to discover the perfect food to pair it with.
Inspired by her ancestors’ traditions Lidia Dorodouli, who is a Spirit Sommelier and Creative Director of the company, spoke to IN+SIGHTS GREECE about the distillery which offers informative tours and taste testing all year round- teaching local and international visitors about this unique drink, while also sharing her tips on how to prepare luscious cocktails using Tsipouro.
Tell us about Dorodouli Distillery. When was it launched?
We started in 2012 after we traced our tradition back four generations- that we know of. Then with respect to the tradition, we added new touches to the art of distillation. For two years we were dedicated to researching the techniques and analysed the old recipes, then we started creating our new, flavourful development. In order to achieve genuine distillates and innovative recipes, 120 different tests were conducted and studied. In 2014 our mission began and that was to elevate the traditional Greek distillate with three key values: Excellent raw materials, scientific controlled quality, and NO sugar, NO additives!
What makes your Tsipouro so special?
Well, the secret is in the recipes. We made the Classico collection specialising in grape distillation, seven different products with seven different characters. To create each recipe we blend different local varieties of grapes and then we distill it. The clear spirits rest for one year in inox vessels but the aged tsipouro remains for a total of two years in three different barrels. In the Classico Collection, you will find the elegant Tsipouro (Classico T) the rich (Classico E), and from the aniseed (Classico G) to the botanic Tsipouro (Classico V). Also, for the whisky-lovers there (Classico X), for the cognac- enthusiasts (Classico C), and of course, my favourite Classico P, which you can enjoy in a cocktail or with tonic water.
Furthermore, our Nostalgia collection focuses on the flavours of Thessaloniki’s culture. It’s inspired by the gastronomy of our city, known as the crossroad of flavours. With two types of Tsipouro with and without anise, “Nostalgia Tsipouro of Thessaloniki” was created by three basic characteristics: fresh materials, rich aromas, and elegant flavors.
What do think makes Tsipouro so unique?
It’s produced by distilling grape marc so like every other spirit in this category (grappa, pisco) you can find aromas and tastes like: fruits, blossoms, raisins, citrus and it is usually 40% ABV (alcohol by volume). This spirit can also be aged in barrels, giving a more woody, mature character with aromas and tastes like spices, vanilla, and caramel. But there are always exceptions because of the different grape varieties and methods used. Usually, Tsipouro is consumed in a taverna with seafood and mezedes, and of course with friends by the sea. It’s so popular in Greece because it is rooted in our culture and you can find it everywhere from amateur producers to commercial distilleries.
Till now our traditional distillate was so underestimated. Most people believed that Tsipouro is a secondary product because it uses the remains of wine production (in any condition). In our four years of research, we realised that the grapes skin and wine lees have to be from fresh and well-treated grapes so as to keep the amazing aromas and flavours and to avoid the harsh or sharpness in the spirit. As the Tsipouro is a premium distillate, it accompanies the fine dining experience nicely.
Where are your products stocked?
Mainly, our products can be found in European countries like Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Greece of course. It’s easy to find them on our e-shop or from our partners’ e-shop for international shipping.
Tell us about your actual distillery. Can people visit all year round?
Yes of course. We have specific tours ‘flights’ based on different themes where visitors can see the distillation process in the production area, and they learn about the art of distillation in the information architect hall. Here you can also experience the concept of food pairing through with spirit tasting. Also, for the more adventurous I would invite them on a “cocktail experience” flight with me, where fun and creativity take place.
What kinds of taste testing and tours are there?
Every flight- tour is so interesting. In the Signature ‘flight’, you can find out about the process of distillate-making and have a basic degustation with a food pairing of Greek flavours. If you would like to explore more, then the Hidden secrets experience is perfect for you. And of course, my favorite, the Crystal Melody ‘flight’ where all the senses meet to travel you to another world, as it combines special bites, carefully selected melodies, and storytelling with premium spirits. Last but not least, the luxurious Bold Blend ‘flight’ where a premium degustation and our brandy in the Alchemestes private club with our Master Distiller is a must.
You are a Spirit Sommelier and a bartender. What are your favourite spirits to work with?
My favorite spirit for cocktails is Alchemestes No.6- this sour spirit has such a unique character. With this, I created our signature cocktail ‘6th Plaza’. This cocktail was a very special recipe to create, as I was inspired by my trip to Italy some years ago.
What food do you recommend to pair with your Tsipouro?
I have so many recommendations, usually, it depends on what you are craving. The idea is that every dish has a matching spirit, which we highlight in our food pairing map. I would start with a seafood mezze (appetizer) like Scallop with Lemon Sauce, Red Pepper Florinis, and Rosemary and that would be paired with the Classico T. Next would be a salad like Green Salad with Strawberries, Manouri, Walnuts and Balsamic, paired with Alchemestes No.7. For the main course which is based around Classico X, I would recommend Smoked Tuna with Celery Roots, Apple, and Crithmum. For dessert- this is a must- Black Chocolate, Espresso, and Alchemestes No.9.