Central Europeans have been distilling fruits for centuries, creating
an outstanding and bedazzling array of eaux-de-vie of cherries, pears,
apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apricots and plums, to name a
Fruit eaux-de-vie are derived from perfectly ripe fruit that has been fermented
and distilled. Quality eaux-de-vie are clear, with an intense nose and palate
evocative of the base fruit. They are always dry, smooth and well rounded to
maximum satisfaction. They should be served in snifters to appreciate their
distinct aroma and should be chilled but never iced. They can be poured into
coffee, or even be mixed in pastries as Normans do.
Italians distil grappa from wine pomace. Grappa today is a sophisticated
and smooth product often distilled from Moscato or Nebbiolo pomace, but also
from Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and even icewine.
Marc is the French term for grappa and Burgundians, Champagnards
and Bordelais all have their versions. In Charente Maritime they produce
Pineau de Charente where to 2/3 grape juice 1/3 marc is added; this
makes a refreshing aperitif. In Champagne they do the same with their marc and
Austrians and Germans produce some fine apricot eaux-de-vie. Kirsch
eau de vie - although the French, Spaniards, and north Italians also
produce this heavenly distillate it is always called by its German name. In
Switzerland cherries grow practically in all cantons but in particular Schwyz,
Uri, Luzern, Vaud, Valais, Geneva, Bern, Basel produce fine kirsch. In
Switzerland people enjoy kirsch in their coffee, on its own, after a festive
meal, and in cakes.
Poire Williams a.k.a pear eaux-de-vie is excellent on their own, in
coffees, fruit salads, pastries, and even as a stomach settling medication
after a particularly "greasy" meal. Some distilleries market pear brandy with a
pear in the bottle. Growing the pear in the bottle is a laborious and costly
process and such products command a high price.
Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) are often used for eau de vie
. Alsatians, Swiss, Austrians and Germans produce particularly flavourful and
smooth berry distillates. In Slavic countries plum brandy generically is called