There is an old saying in Greece..“when you smell rakokazano, winter is coming”.
Rakokazano or Charani in Greek is the wood-fired kettle used to distill grapes and
produce Raki, a strong alcoholic spirit, much needed during the harsh winters on
the Aegean islands.
This traditional extraction process, known as Rakitzo, has been used all over the Mediterranean region for nearly 2,000 years. The KORRES rakokazano story begins in the middle of the 19th century with the great great grandfather of George Korres Ioannis.
It was then passed on from generation to generation ending up in the hands of George’s grandfather, the last to honour the family tradition of raki distilling. Eventually the rakokazano got lost only to be rediscovered by a Korres family member who still lives on the island of Naxos and arranged for it to ‘travel’ to Athens. Ever since its return to the family ‘home’ the rakokazano is on display in George’s office; for George, the rakokazano tradition links back to the first KORRES product he has created, an aromatic cough-relieving syrup with honey and aniseed. Still a best-seller after all these years, that syrup was inspired by Rakomelo, the warming concoction of Raki and Honey which George’s grandfather used to make in his village, Skado of Naxos, and offering it to underage (!) George as a cold remedy in the winter days.
For George the Rakokazano also symbolizes the exemplary, eco-certified organic plant extraction that KORRES has developed; the team traveled literally across the world to assess the contemporary plant extraction ‘know-how’ available and ended up designing in cooperation with the University a first-for-Greece unit combining various technologies, another testament to the brand’s obsession with quality and attentiveness to the smallest of details. These strong associations have led George to depict it as a symbol, featured today on the brand’s packaging.
It means ‘Raki and Honey’; Raki distilling in Greece is called ‘rakitzo’. It takes place at the end of September after the ‘moustopatia’, the crushing of the grapes to extract the must. ‘Strofilia’, the must, is then left to ferment or as the locals say ‘get angry’ in a stone basin for ten days. The preparation of the ‘charani’ the kettle, would start by breaking its seal. At the end of every ‘rakitzo’, the local police secured the kettle with a wax-seal, so as not to be used for unlawful alcohol production. The following year, the policeman would return to issue another permit for raki production and break last year’s seal. When it was time to start the distillation, the raki makers lit up the fire and placed the boiler on the ‘pyromachous’, the base that kept the boiler on the fire. Then, they would place some ‘marathies’, fennel stalks, on the bottom of the boiler to scent the distillate. Having half-filled the boiler with ‘strofilia’, they fitted the lid, and sealed it shut all around, using mud and cow manure, ‘svournies’. They used to fit one end of the ‘moula’, a metallic tube, on top of the lid, and run the other through a large narrow-end clay crock, the ‘birbinitsa’. The birbinitsa was filled up with cold water to cool down the ‘moula’ and allow the ‘strofilia’ steam to turn into raki. While waiting to taste the first batch, the so called ‘protoraki’, the producers grilled quince fruits, an excellent raki accompaniment. Once ready the raki would be stored in large glass bottles or clay crocks and kept in the house’s storeroom, the ‘magatse’. It would be used to make ‘rakomelo’, a warming spirit-with-honey concoction that farmers and emery mine workers took to work. It was also used on bandages to dress wounds and pads for comforting abdominal discomfort.
The first KORRES product, an aromatic syrup with honey and aniseed, was inspired by ‘rakomelo’, a warming spirit which grandfather Giorgos Korres used to make in his village, Skado of Naxos.
Homeopathy was the starting point; inspired by its ‘mild yet effective approach’
yet focusing solely on nature as the ultimate provider
The advantages of natural ingredients lie not only on their efficacy but also on the unique, irreplaceable synergy between their components. Each herb constitutes of a number of components, some of which have well-known properties, while others seem inactive. However, there is a unique synergy in the way those components interact, which cannot be reproduced in the laboratory. In other words, a formulation developed on the isolated components of each herb, would not be as efficacious as in the herb’s ‘original form’. The laboratory is part of the equation but in the context of skin biochemistry; researching natural ways to activate specific biological paths that enable cells to prolong their healthy life cycle.
The pharmacy’s homeopathic heritage is encapsulated in its extensive archive of over 3,000 herbal remedies; remedies based on natural actives that have approached and surpassed the efficacy of long-researched synthetics. Aloe, Borage, Calendula, Evening Primrose, Hamamelis, Quercetin, Wild Rose only some of nature’s harvested multi-action skin beneficiaries.
Natural ingredients that are selected due to their properties and are then extracted, isolated, stabilized and tested exhaustively so as to further access their action in relation to skin needs. The homeopathic heritage provides the data, the lab provides the clinical efficacy, the formulations provide the natural alternative to conventional skin solutions.
The Tzivanides Pharmacy; located behind the Kallimarmaron Stadium in Athens, set
up in the mid 60s as Greece’s first homeopathic pharmacy. George Korres, joined
the team of Mr Tzivanides in 1989 while still studying Pharmacology at the University
of Athens. Though sceptical at first about homeopathy, George was soon overwhelmed
by the power of natural ingredients. Driven by his own passion and deep understanding
of herbs, George envisaged the development of a natural skincare line, which was
realized soon after he was trusted with the management of the pharmacy, in 1992.
His first step was to set up an exemplary homeopathic laboratory based on international
lab standards. Led by the pharmacy heritage, his knowledge and understanding of
over 3,000 herbal remedies, and his quest for a more natural approach, he started
developing formulations that were first tested on his own friends. In 1996, KORRES
was born. The brand’s simple philosophy was rooted in the use of natural and / or
certified organic ingredients of the highest quality; skin- and environmentally-
friendly products with clinically tested efficacy; products that are affordable
for everyday use yet of interesting aesthetics that can ‘inspire & make us happy.’
KORRES Wild Rose 24-Hour Cream, the brand’s first global innovation and first ever skincare product, was launched. It went on to become a global best-seller. The Pharmacy still remains the city’s biggest pharmacy of its kind with a dedicated client following while also serving as a training school for all new KORRES team members.
George - or Giorgos - Korres, an Evangelical School graduate, went on to study at the Pharmacy School of the University of Athens. While still a student (1988), he started working at Greece’s oldest homeopathic pharmacy; he eventually bought the pharmacy (1992) and within the next five years, he set-up a homeopathic-remedyproduction lab. In 1996, having developed a deep understanding and knowledge of natural ingredients and their application in over 3,000 herbal remedies, he created Korres Natural Products, with a view to producing safe, clinically effective, and affordable natural skincare products of interesting design. Giorgos is involved in brand development and research in collaboration with the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens University and various worldwide research centres. His ongoing effort is to utilize valuable, clinically efficacious, endemic Greek herbs; to do so he is cooperating with local communities, agricultural unions and organic farmers.
Lena Korres, a Chemical Engineer joined Korres in 1996. Lena, now a mother of two, was the first person to be hired at the company and played a crucial role in setting & positioning the brand literally from its birth out of Athens’ first ever homeopathic pharmacy. Having held a number of strategic posts at Korres, she is currently the Brand Development Director for Korres. Working closely with the group’s 50-strong R&D team, Lena is involved in the overall product development process. Her greatest ‘beauty’ challenge to date was the development of the Korres yoghurt skincare line which contains yoghurt in its edible form. The development of a stable cosmetic formula preserving all of‘live’ yoghurt’s benefits was a scientific and innovative achievement as well as a global first for the cosmetics industry. Lena was recently shortlisted by the CEW's (Cosmetic Executive Women) United Kingdom Board for the Achiever Awards 2007. Wallpaper*, the internationally acclaimed design lifestyle magazine for urban modernists and global navigators alike, in its 10th anniversary issue featured Lena & George Korres as two of the world’s top 40 influencers under the age of 40.
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