Listen now (25 min) | Schnapps Week continues! Listen to our classic, epic podcast tasting of schnapps and eau de vie, read my tasting guide, and enjoy my favorite kirsch cocktail.
Thank you, Jason, for writing on this subject. I have been a lonely eau-de-vie enthusiast for over four decades and have much to say about these woefully under appreciated spirits. But I’ll just offer one interesting little story. I was visiting a friend who lives in a small village in Switzerland. Early one morning he decided we should drive over to a local farmer’s store to buy some of his bacon and fresh eggs. At the store, I was surprised to see bottles of the farmer’s own homemade plum eau-de-vie for sale. I commented to my friend how enlightened the Swiss were to allow farmers to make spirits from their own fruit and sell it in their shops. He agreed, but explained that farmers had to first acquire a distilling license, and that the total quantity of spirit that they were allowed to produce annually was based on how many cows they owned. Makes perfect sense to me. You gotta love the Swiss; they’ve really got it sorted.
An interesting podcast and article about the wonderful world of schnapps and eaux di vie. It's true that it's an undeappreciated and unloved category of spirits, especially in the States. This is probably a cultural thing as often, though not always Americans aren't so adventurous when it comes to new and unusual things.
As a European who has spent most of his life in Asia kirschwasser, eaux di vie, schnapps, slivovitz, palinka, etc is a common and everyday part of life in most of central Europe. I can be a great way to start and finish a big meal, used both as an aperitif and a digestif.
In Europe they generally tend to come from small breweries and distilleries and most are in the the 20--40 euro price range. Most Europeans would never pay 330--400 euros for a bottle as it would seem to be a waste of money, (though well heeled collectors might.). Yes, moonshine or homemade schnapps can be terrible, but I have had some pretty good ones a apple palinka rested on a bed of apples was lovely and surprisingly , a krauter schnapps, (base spirit infused with herbs and spices).
The problem for me is when drinkers substitute them for wine and beer and you get heavily intoxicated very quickly. Or when people use them as shots instead of tequila or vodka, as they weren't designed or intended to be drunk like that.
I second the learning so much from you and your writing. Bought a Roger Groult 18-year calvados from your earlier article’s recommendation and am really enjoying it!
It’d be great to try these eaux-de-vie before buying. And living in NYC, I’ve gotta think there’s a go-to bar (or three) that has a good selection. Any recommendations?
I'm learning so much from you! This is fascinating! And thank you for including product recommendations.
This is a place where the liquor laws in the US don’t help. I live in a state where the state decides what can be sold in stores. And of course don’t even try ordering something from out of state. State law prevents wine & liquor deliveries by mail. Which is a shame, as these schnapps have to be better than say the Arrow blackberry brandy you can buy here.