The Real Reason Ouzo Can Only Be Made In Greece

There are very few things in the world that can only be made in one place, and ouzo is one of them. In the same way that Champagne can only be from the Champagne region in France, or DOC wines can only derive from Italy (via MasterClass), ouzo can only come from Greece. According to Liquor.com, other countries have their own popular anise-flavored spirits like pastis in France, arak in Lebanon, and sambuca in Italy — but ouzo? You can only get ouzo from Greece.

The Spruce Eats reports the Greek government established exclusive rights to use the term 'ouzo' in 2006. The outlet explains official Greek-derived ouzo is "protected by an appellation PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) recognized by the European Union." What's more, Greek Gastronomy Guide says ouzo specifically from Plomari even has its own special designation. Why? Because a small town in the Plomari region, Lesvos, has long been considered the birthplace of ouzo.

It's not just the ingredients that make ouzo special

Greek Gastronomy Guide says ouzo begins with making alcohol from either grapes or grains. Then the liquid is distilled with aniseed (aka anise) — which gives ouzo its distinctive licorice flavor and aroma. And here's the special sauce: the taste of anise grown in Greece is different than in any other place in the world — which is part of why you can only get official ouzo from Greek distilleries. According to the designation, a minimum of 20 percent of the alcohol must pass through the distiller before adding any spices or herbs to the mix.

Of course, each distillery has special (and secret) instructions for their exact ouzo recipe, with everything from the water source to the spices used to the number of times the liquid will cycle through the distillation process spelled out. Iberian Coppers states that traditionalists make their ouzo in copper alembic stills – what's more, Tsou.Greece clarifies that the designation of the spirit actually depends on it. No stainless steel here! Now you know the journey your ouzo took from Greece to your glass.