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Monday, February 6, 2012

Mastiha Production - a fascinating process

Earlier this month I posted an announcement regarding a new distillery we will begin working with from the island of Chios - Stoupakis Chios Distillery.  I have been doing some research on the process and it's quite fascinating.  Mastiha production is still a labor intense process with a mastic harvest still done by hand.

Prepping for Mastiha harvest
Before tapping the mastiha tree, the area at the base of the tree is swept clear of any debris and foreign matter.

Prepping the ground
Once the ground is swept clean, a white powder is spread around the base of the tree to collect the mastic as it drips from the tree

Tapping the Mastiha tree
Incisions are made into the tree trunk at various points to encourage the flow of Mastiha sap

The Mastiha flows in drips down the tree where it then lands in the white powder.  Once it dries there, it becomes hard and forms clumps. 

Separating the Mastiha
The hardened Mastiha is then separated from the powder and sent to the distillery for further processing.
Here is an example of cleaned Mastiha before distillation.

Now that the Mastiha is at the plant, here is the production process:
Step 1: Sugar & Water are mixed together until the sugar is dissolved in the water

Step 2:  The natural Mastic oil  from the Mastiha sourced from the trees is combined with alcohol (96% ABV) whose agricultural origin is molasses.  They are stirred until the oil has dissolved into thealcohol base.

Step 3: The solutions in step 1 & 2 are combined

Step 4: Once combined, the mixture is filtered

Step 5: The finished product is then bottled and released

There you have it.  It's old school but the end product is delicate in aroma and flavor.  Can't wait to get it here in the next month or so!

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