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Jerry_A

Eau De Vie

50 posts in this topic

It seems to me that making fruit brandy has gotta be one of the hardest tests for the distiller. You've got to distill at low enough proof to get the awesome, intense fruit expression that great eux de vie has, but also at high enough proof that you leave behind the nasty congeners. Sure, dropping the heads and tails helps, but you've still got that razor's edge: Too high=clean but flat, Too low=full flavor but filthy.

That's why the great ones are so awesome and the fair to middlin' ones have people yelling Rocket Fuel.

Myers

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My understanding is that 'schnapps' is indeed a generic term that can be applied to any number of potent clear liquors, but that it is can sometimes be interchangeable with 'eau de vie', that is a liquor that is distilled from pure fruit, not flavoured with fruit.

Absolutely correct. BTW, originally "Schnaps" had the same meaning as "Shot".

Producers of fruit brandies are nearly as uncountable as wine producers. There are virtually thousands of microproducers, and their eau-de-vie can be quite different in characterstics. For example, if you have different pear brandies side by side, you are going to watch diverging characteristics like within a flight of cabernet sauvignon wines.

Here, Craig Camp gives a en excellent introspection into the world of grappas, which is not unlike the world of fruit brandies. And like with whiskey, it just doesn't make much sense to generalize. For example, this is a list of those 23 Swiss eaux-de-vie who won 2004 a first price among the 300 bottles that joined the event.

Bux:

I wonder if eau-de-vie appreciation and a taste for offal meats, and blood sausage go hand in hand.

That's an interesting association. I never thought of that, but I believe I finished most of my "Metzgete" (slaughter)-meals, where freshly made blood sausage is almost mandatory, with a shot of pear brandy.

Most eau-de-vie regions have in common that they are close or within wine regions, and many of them define the northern border of grape cultivating, where the supply of ripe grapes was limited. In fact, I think eaux-de-vie are a juncture between wine and spirits, and not only geographically.


Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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As far as I can tell, an eau de vie is the same thing as a good German/Austrian/Hungarian schnapps.  Is that true?

I've had nice ones in Austria and Hungary made from apricots, plums, or pears and to my memory they've tasted like eau de vie's I've tasted since.

...

As I understand it, "schnapps" the generic term as it is used in Germany stands for an unaged distilled neutral grain spirit.  Essentially German vodka.  It's not clear to me that any of these are flavored.

My understanding is that 'schnapps' is indeed a generic term that can be applied to any number of potent clear liquors, but that it is can sometimes be interchangeable with 'eau de vie', that is a liquor that is distilled from pure fruit, not flavoured with fruit.

...

Thanks for the confirmation slkinsey, Marco Polo, Boris A and Behemoth...

I guess I knew that I had had schnapps in Austria that was eau de vie, but it's funny that it is not more generally known. I suppose it is hampered by what is called schnapps in the U.S. and also by Germans/Austrians using the same word to mean multiple things... (i.e. generic strong clear liquor or a fruit eau de vie). Also, I think (for non-Europeans) there is more general awareness of things French and Italian...


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Here, Craig Camp gives a en excellent introspection into the world of grappas, which is not unlike the world of fruit brandies. And like with whiskey, it just doesn't make much sense to generalize. For example, this is a list of those 23 Swiss eaux-de-vie who won 2004 a first price among the 300 bottles that joined the event.

...

Thanks for the list Boris, looking through it, here are some of the flavors of the winners:

pear

cherry

apricot

plum

raspberry

pumpkin! (kurbis)

apple/elderflower

hazelnut

rosepetals


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Revive this thread to ask:

I'm often a bit confused by what is what with Schnapps, Eau de Vie, Kirsch, Cherry Brandy, Kirschwasser, Cherry Heering, etc.

The recipe in this week's Cocktailian, The Porteño, calls for Cherry Brandy.

I have kirsch. Is this what I should use in the recipe? Or should this be one of the Cherry Liqueurs, like Cherry Heering or Kirsch Schnapps? Or, god forbid, one of the bright red and I'm sure artificially flavored Cherry Flavored Brandies I find at the grocery store?

It's already got a half an ounce of falernum and a half an ounce of Fernet, to only a half ounce of lime juice. To my mind, it probably doesn't need any more (probably less!) sweetener than that.

And while we're at it, are Kirsch and Kirschwasser words for the same thing? It seems like it, looking at online dictionaries. A clear spirit distilled from fermented cherry juice. Is there any particular benefit to the products from the Black Forest?

-Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Most of the time, if the recipe calls for "cherry brandy" it's asking for something like Cherry Heering. If the recipe wants kirsch or kirschwasser (they are the same thing, by the way) it will ask for kirsch(wasser).


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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This thread reminds me of the time several years ago when my wife and I vacationed in France with a winemaker friend of ours (also from Oregon). Our friend knew a winemaker in Alsace, and we spent a couple of days in the B&B associated with the winery (unfortunately, I can't remember the winery's name now). The winemaker invited us to dinner one night at his residence, and after a very fine dinner he brought out a selection of eau de vies, all produced in his winery (I guess you'd also call it his distillery). I'd never had eau de vie before, so I asked him for a recommendation. "If you are a woman," he said, "you should have the framboise. But if you are a man, you should have gewurtztraminer marc."

Needless to say, I had the gewurtztraminer marc. And so did my wife. And it was absolutely fabulous. Ever since, I have searched for gewurtztraminer marc. The American ones I have had are usually harsh and unappealing. The Alsacian brands seem to be unavailable here in the States. And even those French bottles I've purchased from duty-free shops on various other trips seem to be lacking something. But a really good bottle of gewurtztraminer marc, purchased at a store in Alsace, is a thing of beauty.


Check out our Fooddoings and more at A View from Eastmoreland

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Needless to say, I had the gewurtztraminer marc. And so did my wife. And it was absolutely fabulous. Ever since, I have searched for gewurtztraminer marc. The American ones I have had are usually harsh and unappealing. The Alsacian brands seem to be unavailable here in the States. And even those French bottles I've purchased from duty-free shops on various other trips seem to be lacking something. But a really good bottle of gewurtztraminer marc, purchased at a store in Alsace, is a thing of beauty.

There's a fantastic little French bistro in, of all places, Irvine, CA with a stunning (considering its size (miniscule) and usual occupancy (practically vacant)) selection of wines & liquors, including several marcs and eaux de vie. The last time I was there I had an aged Alsatian poire william that was utterly fantastic--not even a hint of the fireyness or potential harshness I associate with even high-quality unaged eaux de vie, like Clear Creek's.

Couldn't find anything like it at Hi Time, and they're pretty comprehensive.

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I was intrigued to read in Stephanie Alexander's 'The Cook's Companion' that Williams pears grown around Shepparton in Victoria, Australia are also distilled there and that large amounts of the resulting Poire William is shipped back to France for bottling and marketing!

My first brush with poire eau de vie was in this restuarant in Paris where a generous shot of it was served over two scoops of house made pear sorbet for dessert - I'd never encountered it before and loved the way it brought out the fragrance of the fruit in the sorbet and was a brilliant palate cleanser. I also liked the whole 'ice queen' vibe the drink gave when combined with the glace. Perfectly suited for a freezing November evening.

On recent trips to the Moravian region of the Czech Repubic I've sampled and bought Hruska which is a local pear schapps/slivovitz/eau de vie. I love the smell of the drink, and it's probably ideal for sipping at the end of a big meal - but my problem is that i tend to encounter it with hard drinking friends and family when it's done as a shot. eeeeek! I was told during my last visit that most villages have a co-op distillery where they bring their fruit and have it made into schnapps - this the fruit grower can then call home made and it's often on local menus as 'domaci slivovitz' - the domaci signifying 'of the house'. I was given of the local 'home' distilled stuff by some friends and when it was opened all I can say that it smelt like bostick glue and actually burnt my lips.

I noticed a drink on the digestif menu of a bistro in Arras that served 'fleur de biere' which only later I realised was probably an eau de vie made of hops or some how beer related. I wish I'd ordered it now...

the Kurbis schnapps sounds fascinating and i'm going to keep an eye out for it next time i'm in the area and i'm determined to try the gentian schnapps as i recently found out it was a favourite drink of my late grandfather.

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Most of the time, if the recipe calls for "cherry brandy" it's asking for something like Cherry Heering.  If the recipe wants kirsch or kirschwasser (they are the same thing, by the way) it will ask for kirsch(wasser).

Sigh, so I suppose the same thing applies to something like Zwack Barack Palinka vs. Brizzard Apry.

One is a true apricot eau de vie and the other an apricot infused brandy based liqueur. True?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Saw an amazing variety of eaux de vie at a department store the other day (in Berlin). Some of these aren't actually eaux de vie but "spirits of" so and so (for instance the peppercorn, which wouldn't really afford much distillable liquid). Included sloes, rowan berries, walnuts, currants, quinces, orange, peppercorn, asparagus (!), truffle (!!), and flower petals.

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St. George Spirits just released what they are calling a Basil Eau de Vie. While I don't believe it really counts as a true Eau de Vie, it does sound intriguing.

Eau my goodness

St. George Spirits, the Alameda distillers behind Hangar One Vodka and several eaux-de-vie, liqueurs and one whiskey, have launched another small bottling with big flavor. Aqua Perfecta Basil Eau de Vie is made with Thai and other varieties of basil, soaked in unaged California grape brandy and redistilled.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Anyone have any advice regarding Kirsch brands?

I'm about out of the Trimbach Kirsch I've been using and am wondering what people think of the other options.

St. George, Clear Creek, Massenez, Etter and Schladerer are some of the ones I've seen in my area.

Which would you advise sampling next?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Anyone have any advice regarding Kirsch brands?

I'm about out of the Trimbach Kirsch I've been using and am wondering what people think of the other options.

St. George, Clear Creek, Massenez, Etter and Schladerer are some of the ones I've seen in my area.

Which would you advise sampling next?

I don't use much Kirsch, nor do I have much tasting experience with it, but I do enjoy the Schladerer that I have. Very clean distillation, but lots of funk.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Anyone have any advice regarding Kirsch brands?

I replaced my last bottle of Trimbach with a bottle of F. Meyer. Haven't really noticed any difference in terms of quality of drinks, good or bad. So, at $24/fifth in NYC and DC, Trimbach seems to be a great value.

Says Embury:

Next to apple brandy in importance comes the cherry brandy knoWn as kirschwasser (pronounced keersh'-vahs-ser) or kirsch. I still have a small quantity of Schwarzwälder Kirsch made by the famous Zwack firm of Budapest. To me at least, that is the kirsch par excellence of the entire world. Even before the war, however, this was seldom found in this country and, when it could be found, the price was almost prohibitive...

He goes on to say it is less sweet than Swiss, French and Danish Kirschs, that it has a "lingering, delightful aftertaste", and that is it made from cherries from the Black Forest region of Germany.

Well it appears that Zwach Kirsch can be found on these shores, and at a reasonable price ($16! at Hitimewines, for example), so maybe that would make a good next purchase?


Edited by David Santucci (log)

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Most of the Zwack products are also available in minis, including their brandies. It's a nice way to try them before going for a full bottle.

Did Embury really cite Zwack as making anything labelled "Schwarzwälder"? I doubt that would have happened, even under occupation - the Hungarians are quite proud of their cherries - more akin to Weichselkirch (auf Deutsch). Reminds me I'm overdue to prepare a batch of a Hungarian favorite, the Sour Cherry Soup!!

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I thought that there might be some interest in the tradition of Eau de Vie here in the area of France where I live.

You can see a full write up on my blog. (link below)

Since this is a very poor area of France there has always been a strong interest in the free fruits of the land. Thus the use of wild plums to make Eau de Vie. The tradition continues today although Eau de Vie from other fruits is made and can be very fine it is not considered to be 'authentic". Many of our local friends take great pride in the quality of their Eau de Vie and age it for years and years.

Its a great way to end a meal, but must be taken in moderation. It is truely powerful stuff!

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I'm bumping this because I'd like to know if anyone has had much success with Eau de Vies in cocktails. A recent article in Food & Wine called it the, "Mixologists' New Cocktail Essential," and offered a few recipes, too.

I also tried Toby Maloney's "Poor Liza":

2 oz Poir Williams (Clear Creek)

1/2 Green Chartruse

3/4 lemon juice

1/4 simple syrup

3 dash Peychaud's bitters

Needless to say--as most of his cocktails are--very good.

So, what's everyone else think?


Marty McCabe

Boston, MA

Acme Cocktail Company

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Mixing with $100 Poire William? Which team drafted you?


Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Kindred's got plenty.


DrunkLab.tumblr.com

”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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The pear flavor really sings in this Bartlett Tartlet, which is more or less a pear sidecar. Somehow more pear-y than just drinking the brandy straight! Delicious.

IMG_2078.png

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