Axia launches in the UK

by Alice Brooker

Greek brand Axia is rolling out its extra-dry mastic spirit, a liquid made from the aromatic resin of the mastiha tree, to the UK market.

Axia is a spirit produced from a gum extracted from the bark of the Mediterranean mastiha tree, which grows on the Greek island of Chios. The resin is used in the spirit for its sweet floral scent, as well as its antioxidant healing qualities. Tony Chvala, Axia Spirit CEO, commented: “We are excited to introduce Axia to the UK market. “Innovation has changed every aspect of our lives, and for a long time we were stuck with the same spirit categories – it was too risky and too difficult to break free of the existing boundaries. “Axia offers a novel experience, a new spirit category and invites bartenders to taste, experiment and explore this extraordinary liquid.” On the nose, Axia boasts aromas of fresh cut grass, rose water and dried orange peels. On the palate, notes of earth pine and cedar are presented, balanced with bergamot, cypress and citrus flavours. The liquid is twice distilled in copper stills on the island of Lesvos, north of Chios. Axia founders Adrian Clarke and Nikos Kalogiannis said: “We are proudly mixing ancient traditions with new ideas and processes and introducing the incomparable taste of mastiha to a new generation of flavour chasers and spirits enthusiasts.” The 700ml bottling sits at 40% ABV, and can be purchased for RRP £32 (US$43.09). At the Athens Bar Show, which took place 9-11 November in Greece, The Spirits Business sat down with Axia global brand ambassador Giannis Miliotis to discuss the new product.
Axia is being launched as a completely new spirit category – what has been the general response?
Generally, talking about outside of Greece – such as the UK and the US – it has such an amazing response. Everybody is feeling the pride we feel tasting the new spirit category. In Greece, we are aware of the many products of mastiha – over 250 products – and most of them are used in gastronomy, for gums and stuff. People tend to associate mastiha with its sweet substance. But, the thing is, we are trying to re-educate them about the original taste – the bitter, grounded taste of the mastiha. We’re not having a problem doing this. We’re getting good feedback. It’s something that we have to tell the people to re-inform them from the beginning. Everybody is embracing our new category of spirit. We can stand next to the other white spirits.
Do you have any future plans?
We have a programme. We launched in the UK and the US. Now, in Greece. These are the first three targets. We have to establish the brand in these markets to let the people know our product. It’s a product of innovation. We are using raw material that was used 2,500 years ago. The plan is to establish it all over Greece, then go outside and expand – make it bigger.
What’s your favourite thing about the spirit?
I cannot describe this to you, because it’s feeling that is really… the science of tasting is connected to our memories that we had years ago. I have grown up here my whole life. I cannot describe to you the feeling that I have: of being in a mastiha field with all these aromas. It’s mesmerising. The aromas of the flowers. The smell of the ground, the soil. The humidity. The botanicals are mixed with all these aromas. It’s so many aromas in one. I find when I taste and smell the spirit I have access to it. It’s a feeling that just reminds me of being there. It’s very connected to me.
How do you plan to adapt the marketing of the Greek spirit for the global market? 
What we are trying to highlight is the physical resin and the original taste. Mastica doesn’t have sugar in it. This is the taste we embrace. This is the taste that we want to give in our drink. This is the taste that has so many chemical compounds in it, and is so complicated, that we are trying to adapt it in a new spirit category.