When 25-year-old Greek Australian Nick Iconomos and his 50-year-old uncle Peter Kozno, decided to produce Greece’s signature drink down under, they never anticipated that within a few months from production, their own ouzo would be in such demand.
Peter, a carpenter by trade and Nick, a pharmacist, who learnt the art of distillery at university, combined their creative minds and experimented for over 2 years until they finally had a product that they were ready to share with their friends and family; a mixture of old traditions and new refinements, named ‘OOZO’.
“Our vision was to produce the highest quality spirit using the best quality Australian products whilst keeping our Greek heritage alive,” says Nick.
OOZO is distilled from South Australian organic grapes sourced from the Barossa Valley and infused with natural aniseed.
Nick and Peter still use a copper pot, which they realised plays a huge role in their product’s unique aroma, taste and silky texture.
Ouzo is without a doubt Greece’s most popular alcoholic drink.
No other beverage is as uniquely Greek or as closely linked to a culture as ouzo is to Greece.
In fact, in 2006, the Greek government gained exclusive rights to use the product name ‘ouzo’.
Its recipe is simple and immediately exquisite while its taste and enjoyment are inextricably linked to history and memories.
The islands of Lesvos (Mytilini) and Samos pride themselves as the hubs of ouzo production and are widely known to have some of the best ouzo in the world.
Recipes for distilling may be similar from location to location, however, on many occasions, some recipes are often closely guarded family secrets.
With that in mind, Nicholas and Peter, who originate from the Aegean islands of Imvros and Kalymnos, travelled to Greece to meet with producers and learn more about the art of making ouzo the way their ancestors did.
“It was a great experience for us to go back and meet with producers that have turned ouzo making into a fine artform. What we realised is that we use similar methods and ingredients, which we intend to keep going forward, but at the same time, we have decided to go a bit heavier on the aniseed and give our product a slightly sweeter, smoother and even more refreshing flavour.
“Due to the extra aniseed, no additional sugar or preservatives are required and when water is added to the mix, the magic happens which results in a clean and subtle spirit, perfect for any occasion,” explains Nick.
Ouzo has its own tradition and philosophy and is associated with the Greek sun, the sea and joy of life.
It is the drink of companionship and expresses the unique Greek temperament and philosophy.
“To us, ouzo is part of our cultural identity and we are very excited to be the ones to produce Greece’s signature drink in Australia,” concludes Nick.