“Good spirits bring out their best qualities when they are left to mature” according to Constantinos Raptis, METAXA

INTERVIEW / 04 APR 2016 / BY DIMITRIS PANAGIOTIDIS

METAXA SPIRITS
Constantinos Raptis, 5th Metaxa Master in the Cellars.
METAXA. The original Greek spirit / metaxa.com

Throughout the years, Costas Raptis has signed a number of the creations of the House of Metaxa, including METAXA 12 Stars and more recently METAXA ANGELS’ Treasure. Discrete and talented, Costas lives by the values of the House of Metaxa. Costas Raptis’ devotion to METAXA began more than 25 years ago when he joined the House fresh out of the University of Athens, with degrees in Chemistry and Oenology, and a passion for wine. Costas has stayed close to Nature ever since. Today, Costas continues to capture the Sun in every drop of METAXA – the very same way METAXA has been doing since 1888. He is the man who guarantees the continuity of the authentic character of METAXA. As the designated keeper of the House’s secrets on taste, Costas masters the unique arts of selecting, ageing and blending that give life to the extraordinary smoothness of METAXA. His talent is unique in the world of spirits, as Costas works with fruit, flower and herbs to get to the celebrated smoothness of METAXA.

Please characterize your life as Metaxa Master? What does that job entail?

My job is extremely creative: every day, to me, is a new challenge. Of course there is also the daily routine of the working life that we all need to follow, in order to find balance through our passion, when our jobs are as creative as mine. However, this routine is very frequently brightened up by moments of incredible bliss, creative challenge and imagination, inspirational moments that sometimes make me loose track of time. I also get to travel the world, meet new people and communicate in an exciting, sensorial language I find creatives always have in common, wherever they come from.

What inspired you to get into this business? Share some of your mentors and how they have helped you.

I liked wine and was intrigued by the world of spirits, even from an early age. As is the case for many Greek families, my father owned a small vineyard, which he had inherited from his own father. This vineyard had always attracted me. I would walk in it as a child, touching the leaves and smelling the ripe grapes, always enchanted by their transformation to the liquid treasure that is wine. I could not escape my fascination so my studies were based on this magic touch of nature. Growing up, my mentor was Elias Metaxa, the grandson of the Founder of the House, Spyros Metaxa. Elias is a man of talent and knowledge, a real inspiration. My other mentor was the previous Master, Evanglelos Skevis. Mr Skevis is a man who got his training on the field, as he started working at the Cellars at a young age, and thanks to his great talent, eventually became “Master”. So, you see, knowledge side by side with talent and intuition were always my guiding lights in life. And still are, to this day.

Please describe the balance of art and science.

Art is ethereal, science is solid. Science is the tool that supports your art. To do what I do, you need both. Art is inspiration and science is the roadmap, if you wish, that makes your inspiration come to life. If one is left only with his art, he will not get the chance to bring it to its full completion…

Costas_Raptis Portrait_gastrometry_greece
METAXA Cellars.

Constantinos Raptis, 5th Metaxa Master says “Be patient and listen to what other people have to say. Patience is something you learn with age and experience. When I was younger I was often impatient, but, cliché as it may sound, good spirits bring out their best qualities when they are left to mature.”

What was your biggest achievement in this industry?

I feel lucky and blessed because I was the one who released the premium and super premium and also the Collectors’ expressions of our collection. In 1992 I released METAXA PRIVATE RESERVE, in 2008 the unique AEN METAXA, then the METAXA 12 Stars. All exquisite expressions of the unique style of the House. I feel very privileged to have been given this fate…

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

“Be patient and listen to what other people have to say”. Patience is something you learn with age and experience. When I was younger I was often impatient, but, cliché as it may sound, good spirits bring out their best qualities when they are left to mature.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

You know, being young is wonderful but also very tricky. My failures on the job where related to the absence of all relevant info, or situations where I was too impatient for results. I thought I could do things without giving them much thought. I had the mistaken belief that, because I had clearly chosen my path, the road would get me there, anyway. This is how I learned the value of preparing well before embarking on any new project and how important it is to allow things the right amount of time.

METAXA_Cellars_constantinos_raptis_gastrometry_greece
METAXA Cellars.

It is true, smells and flavours cover the biggest percentage of memory. Would you share with us, a unique, still vivid moment in life?

When I was writing down the tasting notes for AEN METAXA there was a specific aroma in the blend that was quite unique. It was the aroma of honey from wild bees. This is an uncommon scent, which only few people discover and, later on in life, manage to remember. Wild bees tend to create their beehives in places that men cannot reach, in caves for example, and this is what makes their honey so rare and sought after. As a child I had once found such a beehive: the aroma and taste of the honey is something I will never forget. This is the aroma I discovered so many years later, in AEN METAXA, and this shows the power of our olfactive memory, that is sometimes stronger than our cognitive memory…

Suppose you were hosting this coming Saturday night. And you could invite anyone you wanted. Dead or alive.

Which four would you invite to come over and why?

My father, who is now deceased. I would love to have one last chat with him. Then I would invite the rest of my family, my mother, wife and daughter. There is no one else in the world that I would much rather spend time with, doing anything, actually!