Skinos Mastiha Spirit is flowery, delicate and sweet ― not at all like the assault of aniseed on your taste buds that you experience...

There is a Mastiha Shop in New York City, but Skinos Mastiha Spirit isn’t available yet in the United States ― though a very helpful staffer in the New York shop told on the phone that negotiations are underway to bring it soon to a US liquor store near you ― and near me, I hope. However, Skinos is already available at several of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlets in Canada, and it can also be bought in Canada through the LCBO website.

If you do decide to buy your bottle at Athens International Airport, here’s a word of caution: Don’t even think about buying it if your trip requires you to connect at another airport where you have to go through a security check again as you transfer to your connecting flight ― even an airport in a Schengen Agreement-country such as Switzerland.

Heading Down the Jetway asked the nice lady at reception in the business lounge that Swiss International Airlines uses at Athens International to check for me if I could complete a transfer at Zurich without losing a bottle of Skinos purchased duty-free at Athens. She promptly phoned the airline’s staff at the gate and was told ‘Yes’, as long as the bottle remained unopened and the clear bag it was in remained sealed, even though a security check would be involved at Zurich as I changed terminals.

I took a chance and bought a bottle.

Of course, the Swiss International staff at Athens were wrong: The first thing the security screeners at Zurich did was confiscate my bottle of Skinos, unopened and adhesively sealed in a clear Athens Duty Free bag though it was. Presumably, somewhere, some plump Swiss burger of a security screener is now enjoying nightly nips of Skinos at my expense ― I actually saw one rotund, middle-aged, male screener rush forward to take my bottle of Skinos from the young female screener who actually did the confiscating from me. I knew I had taken a big chance, but still this dismayed me greatly. I was looking forward to having a nice bottle of Skinos to sip throughout the summer.

However, once I landed at Newark and looked to see if everything was still there and unbroken in my checked bag, I could see that one little consolation remained to me. Hoping to be able to enjoy Skinos in days after my trip to Greece was over, I hadn’t opened the 200ml bottle of Skinos Mastiha Spirit I was given by kind Aegean Airlines in Mykonos. I had put it in my checked bag, insulating it as best I could against the usual throwing-around that airport baggage handlers insist on giving every piece of luggage that comes their way. The bottle hadn’t broken on my long trip home to New York … and I still could look forward to sipping the occasional dram of subtle but powerful Skinos on our terrace on a nice summer evening.

By Chris Kjelgaard

This is one of four feature articles on Mykonos published by in July 2009.

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