Tsikoudia in Crete, this translucent smelly nectar of the Cretan land, is essentially a “tool” of Communication!
It contains about 37% alcohol, which labels it as one of the strongest alcoholic beverages. Every autumn after the grape harvest, various wine celebrations start all over Greece. After that, there is the preparation of the tsikoudia. The custom of “rakokazano”, the raki distillation, was instituted by Eleftherios Venizelos in 1920, at which time special licenses were given to farmers to help them financially, through the production of tsikoudia.
It is produced from the leftovers of the grapes, sometimes including the stems and seeds, that were pressed for the wine making process (they are called tsikouda, hence the name “tsikoudia”). As the cauldron begins to boil, we get the first part of the distillate, the first-rate very strong and pure alcohol. As the distillation continues, the tsikoudia gets the right water-alchohol ratio and alcoholic stength. Usually the cauldron ends at about 18 degrees.
The aromatic raki, even steaming, signals the beginning of a high jinks feast. Cretan raki is not just a local product. It is the identity of the Cretan culture. It expresses the famous Cretan hospitality.