Greek Australian pharmacist Nick and his uncle Peter, who is a carpenter by trade have launched a new spirit, combining Australia’s high-quality clean ingredients and technologies with traditional Greek Ouzo making methods.
“We have both been passionate about spirits for a while and after a lot of research in 2014, we started distilling from home under the back veranda. As we were gaining more experience on a small scale we began the long process of gaining our distillers manufacture license. Once everything was sorted out legally it was time for us to move from home and upgrade to a small shed in Norwood. At the same time, we went from our old 30L still to a 400L still. And like many businesses, we liked the idea of starting in a garage," said Nick.
"In the beginning, our focus was on Single Malt Whisky but due to the long aging process, we found we had time to experiment with our new equipment,” he adds.
This is how the first batch of Oozo came about. It was an experiment, he continues to say after acquiring a barrel of homemade South Australian wine. “We distilled the wine and infused a few unique flavours such as cinnamon and mastic along with the traditional aniseed. Unfortunately, as we were making this very first batch Peter’s mother (my yiayia) passed away. This inspired us to bottle this very first experiment to give out to family in memory of her spirit.”
They received positive feedback after the initial experiment and they decided to continue to refine the product. This led to batch number two, which was again very well received.
When Peter and Nick went to Greece in the middle of 2018, they visited other distilleries and further refined the product using the best combination of what they had learned from their experience, what science taught them and century-old traditions. Batch three was then created.
The spirit of OOZO originates from South Australian grapes, which are sourced from the Barossa Valley region. “The grapes are fermented like wine and then distilled to high alcohol content. At this high alcohol content is when we add a combination of raw aniseed seeds and allow the flavours and natural oils to steep into the spirit. We then distill the liquid again and that’s it! Nothing else is added at all!”
Nick admits that his pharmacy background helped with Oozo. "Distilling is the process of separating the components from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation. Because alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, we can evaporate the alcohol, collect the vapors into a tube and use cold temperatures to force the alcohol to condense back into liquid.”
What makes Oozo very unique worldwide is the small scale production that allows Peter and Nick to control the quality to almost impossible levels on a large scale and the access to Australia's clean premium ingredients. “I believe the most unique factor of Oozo is what we leave out! Unlike most other ouzos we don’t add any sugar or added flavouring. Everything you can taste was absorbed directly from the raw seeds before being distilled for a final time” Nick said.
“The way we enjoy drinking Oozo is the way we were taught by the very experienced captain we met in Greece- equal parts Oozo and cold water with two cubes of ice in a tall narrow glass. As for what food to pair it with- traditional Greek mezedes are best, in particular, salty seafood to compliment the sweet aniseed” Nick says.
Nick and Peter in the future “would love nothing more than to see Oozo being enjoyed in peoples life. We want it to be the spark for passionate conversation and great memories. We want to migrate the moment that many of us have experienced through spirit.”
Oozo is available Australia wide from and in some of the popular restaurants and bars in Adelaide.