The liqueurs and ouzo of Chios are famous, but the less known souma is the star for this season. From the end of October to mid-December, the traditional distilleries operate in many villages of Chios and the locals enjoy the ritual of distillation of this traditional spirit.
The raw materials for the production of the souma are figs and this is the main difference from tsipouro, which is made from grapes. The figs, harvested at the end of August, are dried in the sun for about twenty days and then they are transported to the distillery, where they are put into big barrels with water, mixed with yeast. They ferment for about two weeks and then they are ready to be transferred into the copper still.
Aromatic plants or other fruits (anise, apples, mandarin oranges, quinces, as well as a small amount of mastic) are added to give a special flavor and aroma according to each producer’ s family recipe. Then the stills are filled and insulated with simple daily materials, the fire will be set, the boiling begins and the feast will follow!
The locals are gathered in the traditional distillery and while waiting for the souma to get ready they eat “meze” (traditional snacks) and they sing and dance, sometimes accompanied by live music! Although the process of distilling souma is not offered as an organised tourist activity, according to the tradition everyone is welcome.
So next time you are in Chios island during for this period, ask the villagers for information about next scheduled distillation and take part in the feast!