Kitron Naxou is a liqueur obtained by the distillation of pure alcohol in traditional copper stills. The leaves of the citron tree (citrus medica, kitria in Greek), reach in essential oils with a strong aroma, are the raw ingredient used in the distillation process and were originally used by wine growers in the distillation of raki. On the island of Naxos, the cultivation of citron trees dates back to the 17th century. In 1896 in Chalki, a village at the central semi-mountainous part of Naxos, Markos Vallindras founded a distilled spirits plant – distillery, which bears his name until nowadays (“Vallindras Distillery“), that began its first exports in 1928. Citron leaves are collected between October and February and then they are distilled. In Naxos, apart from the liqueur, the citron fruit comes also as a spoon sweet, one of the sweets in the Greek cuisine.
The Kitron Naxou liqueur is available in three versions; the yellow Kitron Naxou liqueur (with 36% alcohol content and no sugar), the white Kitron Naxou liqueur (with 33% alcohol content and low sugar content, Naxiots’ preferred choice) and the green one (with 30% alcohol content and a higher sugar content). Bear in mind that the citron liqueur is considered to favour digestion!
What is most interesting to see in the beautiful village of Chalki is the open-to-visitors Vallindras Distillery. Eirini Frangoudaki and her daughters, keeping a long family tradition alive, initiate visitors into the secrets of the production of this liqueur, which has become the emblematic product of Naxos.
A proudly standing building which resembles both a mansion and a modern industrial era structure, hidden amidst the picturesque narrow alleyways of Chalki village, has been carrying a one-century long history housing the Vallindras distillery and the work of five generations of Vallindras. As we enter the building, we are welcomed by members of the Vallindras family.
In the first room, a large tasting counter is placed in front of the display case with the whole range of products, bottled before the customer’s eyes in beautiful long-neck bottles. The tour through the distillery was fascinating: old distillery stills, old huge bottles enclosed in wicker for protection, old bottling instruments. Hanging on the walls, the old contracts concluded with citron representatives in Istanbul, Thessaloniki, Egypt bearing trading information written in blue ink (“M. G. Vallindras, Island of Naxos, Products Manufactured: cognac, rum, mastic liqueurs…”) travelled us through time.