Schnaps Of The Alps Vol.2
From the heart of the Alps
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Noch eine kleine Schnapsmusik.
Nothing can quite transmit the feeling of well-being as a sip of Schnaps on a cold winter day. The Spirit warms the palate and charms the heart.
The Alpine region of central Europe has elevated the production of real Schnaps to an art. Real being the operative word, as Uncle Flaviar likes none of those fishy, tipsy-over-tasty concoctions that are sometimes associated with the term.
It’s all about the good stuff. Fragrant and refined. The finest of Schnaps for the finest of friends: You.
First off – leave your preconceived notions aside. Whatever memories you have of Schnaps, it’s time to make new ones. Cheap, sugary liqueur is not Schnaps!
The real deal
As it happens, Schnaps is as noble a Spirit as any. Smooth, complex and thoroughly diverse. It takes a combination of expert distilling and first-rate ingredients to come up with the real deal, and Austria is where you’ll find it. Freihof Hammerle Apricot is both an example of the Austrian Schnaps tradition and exquisite craftsmanship. If you’re looking for something more exotic, Reisetbauer Carrot proves that you don’t necessarily need fruit to make good Schnaps. Alle zusammen, sehr gut!
Winter is coming
You can find great Schnaps all over the mountainous Alpine region. Slovenia is Austria’s neighbor and funny enough, they consider Schnaps their national beverage just as well. Their favorite variety is made from Williams pear, and as far as this particular type is concerned – Zima Williams is as good as it gets. “Zima” translates as “Winter,” but this Schnapps is the perfect uplifting antidote to the cold, dark months. A summer hug on a winter day.
And that’s what great Schnaps is all about!
1) The term Schnaps comes from German word “snappen,” meaning “to swallow.” A reference to the fact that Schnaps are traditionally consumed as shots.
2) In the US especially, Schnapps (mind the extra p) can have a different connotation entirely. When talking about Schnaps, we are referring to Spirits distilled from fermented fruit with no additives: fruit Brandies if you will. The American style “Schnapps” is not directly distilled from fruit but rather a mixture of grain alcohol with added fruit flavors and actually falls into the liqueurs category.
3) Most real Schnaps is distilled from apples, pears, cherries, plums or apricots, although more or less any fruit (or even vegetable!) can be used.
4) Schnaps, also known as Edelbrande or Eau-de-vie, is simply the term for fruit Brandy in Germany and other German speaking countries. Other regional Brandies, like Italy’s Grappa (made with Wine pomace), France's Calvados (made with apples) and Eastern Europe's Slivovitz (made with plums), all fall in the category that Austrians would call Schnaps.
5) Austria is a country that produces more Schnaps than anywhere else in the world.
6) Even in Austria, Schnaps has changed over the years significantly. Peasants usually used the fruits they couldn't sell for Schnaps making, but today, producers are very aware that you cannot make extra fine Schnaps from inferior fruit. Quality over quantity is the motto.
7) Nowadays, Schnaps is a diverse and artisanal Spirit as any. Craft distillers are focused on local ingredients and constant experimentation. Our job is to savor the fruits of their labor. Literally!