Folklore - Ancient crafts


Raki production or kazánisma


Introduction The social surroundings The production


Having experienced and read about other more or less joint working processes going on in the villages of Crete, I must admit that I expected the distillation of raki to include a lot of festivity, music and partying. But the world of reality was quite different. In Chaniá and the other bigger towns they have raki celebrations with music and free raki, but in the villages nobody makes much of the distillation. Usually a small group of people meet (each of them might have delivered the material for the distillation i.e. the already pressed grapes: the mash (stráfylo) which is then being distilled). In all fairness I have to add, that the two places where I attended the process were very small.




Of course not all Cretans distil raki in autumn. It is most definitely a phenomenon, which takes place in the country, and even here only a few people have a still (kazáni). Moreover, you must have a personal licence issued by the customs authorities every year. The licence follows the name of the one who originally got it, but in practice it means, that one of the sons takes over the work to avoid the paperwork of getting a new licence. In addition to stating your personal data, you have to report the amount of mash you have (and therefore pay tax on). As the licence moreover is limited in time analogous to the mentioned amount of mash, it means a very concentrated job for the producer. Unlike in Denmark the "snaps" in Crete is taxed with only roughly 0,55 € per litre, but like everybody else the Cretans do not like new taxes. It reminds me of the old Danish expression "snaps of the pauper", an expression which long ago has lost it's relevance. In this context you must remember that this tax is fairly new. It was introduced for the first time in 1998 but rises gradually every year.



At the same time as it has become unprofitable for the small "producer" to make his own raki, quite a few middle-sized factories have come into existence. They produce large quantities of raki for tourism and restaurants, but they often add to it different kinds of additives or maybe even alcohol to keep a certain percentage. This development means that the previous times, where you in merry company as a matter of fact were able to consume considerable quantities of raki without being hit by terrible hangovers the next day, are numbered. And the taste of the new industrial product, I shall not comment on at all.



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