I was recently introduced to this wonderful Cyprus Gin at Blind Taste Drinks in Paralimni. As a gin lover, I couldn’t resist a taster and was very impressed, to say the least. I was tasting the Angelica Blue Gin a craft gin that was sourced, produced, distilled, and bottled in Cyprus. I just couldn’t resist, so I called Aris at Aristides Craft Distilling for a chat and was delighted when he invited me to the distillery …
Good for the soul
I wasn’t sure what to expect, it was my first visit to a modern spirits distillery. From the outside, it looked like three industrial units with a stunning view, one that must be good for the soul as you arrive for work every day. With the stores to the left and bottling to the right, I entered the distilling section in the middle, Aris and Marianna greeted me with a warm welcome. Immediately I realised the difference between traditional and modern-day distilling was just a fine line.
With evidence of distilling dating back to 1200 BC and the tradition evolving in the 12th Century AD, followed by the invention of the column still, in the 19th century, all still evident. The distilling room in three sections; Mashing, Fermentation, and Distilling … and Aris explained, “With the introduction of new age craft distilling equipment, comes that fine line between tradition and technology, with a modern approach allowing us the ability to distill craft spirits to perfection consistently and to the highest quality possible!
Copper Run Distillery
Aris is a UK Born Cypriot, an IT Consultant by profession, who worked at an engineering firm that designed Ethanol Plants in the USA, before getting into craft distilling. He has also studied his craft in England, Scotland, Holland, and Germany learning much about, malting, brewing, mashing, fermenting, distillation techniques, and aging spirits. Aris met his wife, Cypriot-born Marianna in Cyprus and her field in advertising and marketing come in to complement his skills, making them a tightly-knit team.
Aris eventually moved back to Southern Missouri in the USA, where he became the co-owner of the first craft distillery in Missouri since prohibition. His distillery specialised in making Whiskey and Rum both winning worldwide awards. Marianna eventually followed Aris, they got married, had a family, and then they decided to bring their talented art back home … check out their video here.
Aris explained; “What we are doing has never been done on this island before, at this level. Our work sort of resembles a Chef’s job, developing recipes, exchanging ideas with other chefs, and always looking towards making better and different spirits. Depending on the seasons we do different things, but there’s always something to do!”
Now I know you might be thinking? ‘Cypriot spirits, don’t have a good reputation’. Aris explained; “The key to quality craft distilling is the principle of production process control and superior raw ingredients. What makes what we do so special is the real deal, because we produce everything in-house”. Just then I learned something new when Aris told me that all whiskey starts off ‘clear’ and only gets its colour from the wood during aging and the type of barrel it ages in, i.e. charred or toasted.
Surprised that making whiskey was one of their specialties, I asked Aris to tell me more, he explained, “It requires a lot of knowledge of the process, especially since you won’t see the final results until 3 or 4 years, so you can’t fool around. Anything that requires aging of course needs forward planning and in-depth experience”.
Aris continued; “It starts with analysing the water and adding the nutrients that are missing, then mashing the water with those nutrients and natural produce”. “Then of course, whisky has to be aged for at least 3 years to be allowed to be called whiskey, and we’ve tried all different types of barrels, new and used, charred or toasted. The result here, is a delicious smooth whiskey, lighter in taste, with a smoked wick”
I then asked him about their Rum and he said; “this works much the same as the whisky in terms of the end result and with specialised techniques and forward thinking we produce a beautiful full-bodied rum”.
Their vodka production first started as a bet, between Aris and Marianna … then it turned into a personal challenge. They wanted to make the first and only vodka produced in Cyprus using Cyprus Potatoes, the best-tasting potatoes in the world. Aris explained, “Vodka has to be neutral and requires a technique which is not visible and that’s not easy”. He explained; “You have to convert the potato starch into sugar and then separate the alcohol from the potato mash. This process takes up to 3 months! The result is their Terra Rossa Potato Vodka which is gluten and sugar-free, with very few carbohydrates.
My initial interest was to find out about their gins, Aris explained, “It’s what originally brought us back to Cyprus, ‘to create a quality craft gin’. Our initial inspiration was the aroma of The Troodos Mountains after a long dry summer when it first rains and we wanted to capture exactly that and put it in a bottle, and we called it Aoratas Dry Gin which in fact won a gold medal again this year.
Blue to Pink
Their other award-winning gin is Angelica Blue Gin with a twist, which was inspired by the world-famous 10 botanicals and citrus that grow only on the island of Cyprus. I loved the way the Blue Gin turned pink when you added natural tonic water. Aris explained how; the P.H. level changes when you add natural tonic forcing it to change colour … Brilliant!!
Aristides Distilling also makes two more handcrafted limited edition Gins, using only natural ingredients with no added sugar or artificial colouring. Their Seasonal Berry Gin is playful and fruity and made by soaking red and black currants with mandarin zest, spices, and raisins. The black and red currants combine to give a full and rich flavoured gin with warm seasonal intricate aromas.
Flower Power Gin
Another of their limited editions, is their Flower Power Gin, which features many botanicals from Cyprus including Juniper Berries, Hyssop, Lemon verbena, Aniseed, Lemon peel, Yarrow, Tree wormwood, and Bergamot amongst others and then you add one of 3 infused floral flavours in the form of a tea bag which you brew in the glass with the gin and add Indian tonic., the result a truly amazing taste! … in fact, I picked up a bottle while I was there, and tbh, it’s one of the best gin’s I’ve ever tasted!
Most Saturdays, you and four or five of your friends can arrange a tasting tour around the distillery, where Aris will also show you his museum and explain with attention to detail exactly how they do it to perfection. The tours are free and last about 1 hour for a maximum of 6 people. Oh btw, they also stock some excellent mixers to compliment their spirits.
Aris also belongs to a network of distillers … Aris explained; “when young people ask for my help, I like to help them learn about distilling, I’m sort of a Mentor to a lot of young distillers in Europe. So if you want to learn more, give him a call.
Join the Club
I just love the idea of ‘The Barrel Club’ … this is the first in a series of initiatives that’s a perfect gift for any spirit enthusiast and any person who is interested to learn and gain some experience in the production of great-tasting spirits. The members of The Barrel Club become owners of a brand-new American Oak 4-litre barrel of whiskey, that they fill and will eventually bottle with the help and guidance of Aristides Distilling’s master distiller.
Visits & Tasting
Barrel Club members can visit their barrels of whiskey at predetermined dates to taste the contents giving them the chance to understand and experience the process of barrel aging. This is what handcrafted distilling is all about and they’ll make sure you’ll end up with the best-handcrafted spirit to celebrate with!
Open all year
Daily: 8 am ’til 5 pm
Saturdays: 2 pm ’til 5 pm
Daily: 8 am ’til 5 pm
Saturdays: 2 pm ’til 5 pm
All credit cards accepted
You’ll find Aristides Distilling at 115, Tefkrou Anthia, 2480, Tseri … Click on the Google Map icon below …
GPS: 35.065885, 33.338868
New Age Craft Distilling!