And Metaxa certainly is original. It is in a class of its own, literally so when it comes to spirit competitions. When it first came out in 1888 it was referred to as a cognac, because back then there was no hard and fast definition of what cognac was, so many brandies called themselves cognac.
Later, when cognac became strictly defined Metaxa and other drinks had to redefine themselves, and Metaxa became a brandy. For years it was regarded as the Greek brandy. But then the spirits world defined what a brandy was, and brandy was a drink that, amongst other things, did not contain wine.
Metaxa does contain wine, very fine wine from Samos, so the company had to decide whether to drop the wine and change the recipe so they could call themselves a brandy, or to stick with their successful recipe. Stick with it they did. This is Greece, after all, where tradition is important. So now Metaxa is simply Metaxa, a dark spirit in a category of its own. But if you’ve never tried it and want to know what to expect, think brandy and you won’t be far off.
Tasting 12-Star Metaxa
Metaxa is a stylish product. It comes in a solid dark blue box and the bottle inside is equally handsome, with a matching blue top and gold lettering for the label. With the deep brown spirit inside, it certainly looks classy and very tempting.
On the nose it’s like a brandy, but a brandy with a subtle difference. There’s a floral sweetness in there but it’s a really rich floral sweetness, not the subtler notes you might get with a Scotch or a brandy. That’s because Metaxa also has botanicals in it, including rose petals.
There’s a hint of violets in there too, probably a spin-off from the roses. Perhaps figs as well, another sweetness, and a hint of dark coffee richness. It’s certainly an interesting aroma and not quite like anything else while resembling both brandy and whisky.
On the palate the sweetness of rose petals and violets really emerges, balanced by a darker taste of coffee or chocolate. It’s a rich combination and the aftertaste lingers, that mix of floral, coffee (which sounds an odd combination but it’s delicious) and a little bit of orange. It’s 40% ABV and you can certainly taste the alcohol.