Eaux De Vie By Fruit
Now, one last thing we want to do before we wrap up this episode is give you a summary of the world’s most popular Eaux de vie, grouped by their base fruits.
We’ll start in the world of grapes, which is probably the most dominant type of eau de vie in any country or region that produces a lot of wine. And this is mostly because the unused grape sludge that gets strained out of the wine (a substance called pomace), can then be distilled just like a mash used to make a grain-based spirit.
In France, of course, we’ve got Eau de Vie. In Italy, this same spirit distilled from different grapes is called “grappa.” And in Spain, it’s called “aguardiente,” or “fire water.”
Heading over to the New World grape producers, we’ve got Pisco and Singani, from Peru and Bolivia, respectively. These growers tend to operate at high altitudes, and you’ll often hear it said that this really helps the distillers preserve the qualities of the grape in the finished product.
Then, in Greece and Albania, you’ve got Raki. Now, here’s where it gets tricky. For the most part, in Greece and Albania, Raki is precisely an Eau de vie. But in other places in the Mediterranean, like Turkey, for example, Raki refers to a sweetened, Anise-flavored drink. So you’ve got to be careful depending on what country you’re in.
This is also true in the Balkans, where any sort of eau de vie (grape or otherwise) is called “Rakia.”
Finally, a nod to the grape producing regions in Africa, in Sardinia, the grape-based Eau d Vie is called “Abbardente.”
Moving on to the fruit-based eaux de vie, there are some pretty fun and noteworthy ones.
In Germany and Switzerland, you’ve got Kirschwasser, which is cherry-based. You’ve got Poir Williams in France, which is pear-based. And in eastern Europe, you’ve got Slivovitz, which is distilled from the Damson plum.
Last but not least, we’ve got the sort of all-encompassing brandies that can be made from any number of distillates. And with these, oftentimes what you’ll see is that they’ll have the generic name accompanied by the flavor that it invokes.
A perfect example is Schnapps, which is another German/Swiss/Austrian product that can be made from any number of fruits. And then we’ve got the Eastern European Pálenka (if you’re in the Czech Republic or Slovakia) or Pálinka if you’re in Hungary. Same deal – these are all kind of generic names with variants that can be made from different bases. In Armenia, this category is called Oghi. And finally, in India, Sri Lanka, and the Middle-East, the generic name for your unaged, distilled spirits is Arrack, which can be made using anything from Palm hearts to coconut.