I love olive oil. I eat some pretty much everyday. Despite just how much olive oil is on the market, what is clear when you try lots of different brands is this: not all olive oil is created equal. And Avlaki, freshly bottled organic olive oil from Greece is certainly not your run-of-the-mill olive oil. It is unfiltered and unadulterated, and is bottled within weeks after the olives are picked at their peak condition.
I like to think I know good quality olive oil but I made sure I had a second opinion so their was no bias. We tested two different bottles of Avlaki Olive Oil. Here is our findings:
Avlaki New Season Single Estate Extra Virgin Unfiltered Avlaki Groves ‘Grassy & Fruity”.
The packaging is great, with a handwritten detail on the label. It even tells you who produced the oil. The oil is amazing. It is fresh and clean. It tastes expensive and delicious.
Avlaki New Season Single Estate Extra Virgin Unfiltered Agatheri Groves “Complex & Sophisticated”.
This is also brilliant quality. We both choose different favourites and then we switch at different times. There is a very slight peppery taste to this olive oil, while the other one tastes fresher, this one has more going on, more complex flavours working together. Sometime I prefer this one, and sometime the Avlaki Groves.
Result: World class olive oil. Get your hands on some.
Avlaki Freshly Bottled Olive Oil – from branch to bottle within weeks
Avlaki olive oil is exactly how Deborah MacMillan and Natalie Wheen believe an excellent olive oil should be. The olives are picked at the peak of condition, milled immediately and then the oil is bottled, unfiltered and unadulterated, as soon as possible – all within a few weeks.
Olive oil is the juice of the fruit: the fresher it is – the more taste, nutrients and health benefits it has. Avlaki oils come from two separate single estates. They each have a distinct flavour and finish, for people to enjoy with different foods. Most commercially available oils come from production that has been standing in tanks for many months – and more. This oil is a mix from various farms and locations, harvested throughout the season. It is filtered before processing and then blended to make a uniform product.
Avlaki oils are different – they have a freshness to them; full of grassy, fruity notes, with a peppery zest and are perfect ‘finishing’ oils for fine dishes. Drizzle on hot vegetables, soup, pasta, fish and salads. Or serve simply, just by themselves – with a good bread for dipping.
The Avlaki adventure…
Deborah and Natalie were simply buying a small place to escape from London stress: making olive oil was not something that they set out to do. Deborah is a painter and Natalie a writer and broadcaster on the arts and classical music. After buying their tiny piece of Greece – the small property is just above the sea on the Greek island, Lesvos – they discovered the repairs they had made to the little ruined house broke all of the planning regulations, due to a lack of land. Fortunately they could buy small parcels of land from their neighbours to add to the plot – all had sadly neglected olive trees growing. They applied their knowledge of British gardening practice to the trees – pruning, mulching, manuring – and also researched the latest information about olive farming from the internet. Avlaki Groves, the home fields, were the first to start producing a good crop in 2000 and a few years later Deborah and Natalie bought the mountain fields of Agatheri Groves, 5/600 metres above sea level. Having witnessed the questionable quality of traditional farming practice, they converted their fields to strictly organic farming (certified by Bio-Hellas) – also practising permaculture and encouraging bio-diversity. Avlaki’s fields are now full of wild flowers, insects, birds and all kinds of wildlife.
Why is Avlaki Olive Oil different?
Avlaki’s olives are only harvested in December, when the olives are a perfect mix of ripeness: green, turning to pink and black, all helping to create the lively Avlaki tastes. They are hand-picked, raked off the trees into soft nets and cleaned of any leaves and twigs and damaged fruit, before being taken to the mill immediately – in shallow crates to avoid bruising. Deborah and Natalie closely watch their olives through every stage of the process and the freshly milled oil is stored straight away in air-tight churns. Once the grove is completely picked and the oil tested by Bio-Hellas, Deborah and Natalie ensure that it is all bottled as fast as possible – every bottle is dated. All small olive farmers take home fresh oil for the family, straight from milling – the rest is left in the communal tanks at the mill to sell on after the end of the harvest. During this time the oil can become a featureless blend from different kinds of production; from high fields and low, spicy early pick and bland oily late pick – lacking any characterful taste and losing nutritional properties. The olive varietals used in the final oil, also make a difference – ‘Kolloví’ and ‘Andramytianni’ are particular to Lesvos and are the only olives used in Avlaki oils. These give the island a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) from the EU, for their naturally golden oil – which has a light consistency and distinctive taste. It is well known in Greece: Avlaki now brings this excellent quality and fabulous tasting oil to the UK.
Deborah and Natalie were once amateurs trying their best to improve the land that they had acquired but have become passionate advocates of real olive oil and the difference between their fresh olive oil and many of the products on the shelves. Consumer education is vital, as Natalie explains; “The description ‘pure’ olive oil conveys an impression of purity but in fact this term is used to describe oil that is not considered fit for human consumption until it is pasteurised. This is just one misunderstanding and we hope that when people try our Avlaki oils they will be converted like us. They will understand the difference and why we feel that it is so important to treat the olives as naturally as we can, to really have the purest product possible.”
UK: George Mewes Cheese – 106 Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8TB/ Papadeli – 84 Alma Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2DJ/ Pear Tree Deli – Half Moon Street, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3LN/ Duke’s Deli – 22 Duke Street, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 9PZ/ Williams Fish Market and Food Hall – 3 Fountain Street, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire GL6 0BL/ Beetham Nurseries – Pool Darkin Lane, Beetham, Nr Milnthorpe, Cumbria LA7 7AP/ Drewtons Farm Shop – South Cave, Brough, E.Yorkshire HU15 2AG/ Much Ado Deli – 7 – 9 Stanley Court, Olney, MK46 5NH
Overseas: Anton & Anton – Oy, Helsinki, Finland
SRP: £18 – £20+ per 50cl bottle
Minimum trade order 12 bottles at £12 per 50cl bottle
£144 per case plus £10 delivery
Avlaki will include a pair of 100ml promotional bottles with each order
Sets of 2 x 100ml marasca bottles (1 Avlaki oil and 1 Agatheri oil)
Minimum trade order of 1 box: £72 (12 packs at £6 per pack)