What is the history of gin in Greece?
Greece is a country well-known for its excellent Mediterranean cuisine. Its drinks are less well known, with production generally dominated by ouzo and tsipouro, together with a tradition in wine making. Whisky has long been a favourite in the market, whilst gin has had a more modest following.
There are more than 300 distilleries in Greece, however very few have branched out to other spirits such as gin. There are to our knowledge currently four Greek gins, with Grace gin being by far the most premium.
Is there a Greek gin industry and has it changed in recent years?
I think its fair to say, talking of a Greek gin industry is premature. The impact of the global gin boom has been less prevalent than elsewhere. Certainly there has been an increase in consumption and more premium gins have been growing in the market, with Hendrick's Gin being the most popular during the past few years.
It will be interesting to see how the next few years develop, as there are definitely the signs of a renaissance and innovation in the Greek bar and drinks market, including the popular Athens bar show, two Athens bars in world's Top 50 Bars, and mixer company Three Cents. So, there is definitely a buzz in the industry at the moment
Do Greek gins have a distinctive style?
There are too few Greek gins at the moment to discern any trend or style, except to say the better ones will focus on the nature of Greece using local botanicals and ingredients.
Which Greek gins should international gin lovers try?
Of course Grace Gin, which brings the best of the sea and the mountains from Greece. The distinctive flavours of Kritamos (rock samphire) from by the sea distilled with myrtle and Schinos from the mountains together with the other flavours make it a seductive drink like a glorious evening in the Greek sun.
The other Greek brands currently are Dry River Gin produced in North Greece, and Old Sport Gin from Kalamata which has a focus on masticha amongst the other more traditional botanicals.
How to gin drinks like to serve gin in Greece?
The gin and tonic is at the beginning of its journey in Greece. Greece is still primarily an on-trade market, especially in the summer when gin is more likely to be consumed. The more popular garnishes tend to be the local produce - simple and fresh, usually citrus e.g. orange, lemon.
Which international gins are most popular in Greece?
In the mainstream there are the major brands, with Gordon's Gin probably being the most popular and widely distributed. In the premium range Hendrick's Gin has developed a good following, but a lot of international brands are in Greece, all be it in modest quantities.
Are there any 'must go' gin events and bars in Greece?
The Greek bar scene is developing continuously, with The Clumsies and Baba au Rum in the world's Top 50 Bars. There are also a few gin bars such as Gin Joint in downtown Athens which are worth a visit.
One of the main events of the year is the Athens Bar show which takes place in Technopolis in Gazi, with the Acropolis in the distance. It is gaining respect and recognition every year, in Greece and beyond.
Where do you see the Greek gin industry going next?
That is the big question. We hope that it will evolve with people producing high quality gins using the finest ingredients and techniques. This would help to build the impression of premium quality in Greek drinks to add to the high quality perception of Greek food and cuisine. It will take time and experimentation if it is to happen. In the meantime, taste the delights of the few premium gins on the market.
The Gin Guide's tasting notes and Grace Gin Review