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An eau de vie is a type of brandy of French derivation. It is made from fruits, including pears, apples, raspberries, and peaches. The colorless spirit is usually double distilled after being fermented.
Versions of the drink are distinguished by the particular fruits they are made from, and are usually named in French for for the featured fruit. Some examples would be -de pomme, from an apple, -de peche, from a peach, -de poire, from a pear, and -de framboise from raspberries. The fruit is harvested, then fermented, and finally the product is distilled, thereby avoiding storage in wood casks. Experts claim that this is the reason that the eau de vie drink is clear and not tinted, as are most brandies.
Eau de vie is most commonly associated with France. Similar drinks, however, are produced in many countries such as Germany, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Yugoslavian/Balkan countries all have their own names for this kind of drink. Many times, this kind of drink is made from the leftovers from a wine making process.
The term eau de vie translates to “water of life.” Other nations also have similar spirits named after water, such as the Russian “vodka.” Terms for liquors vary across many national boundaries. Those with an in depth knowledge of word origins often contend that the French term comes from the Latin “aqua vitae” that came to be used for any kind of distilled liquor over many centuries of European history. Old English texts sometimes called this kind of drink “spirits of wine.”
Experts recommend serving eau de vie chilled. Many of those who drink this liquor, do so as an after-dinner drink and take only a 1-2 ounce “shot” of it. The drink is high in alcohol content, often around the standard 80 proof mark, and is meant to be imbibed in small, even quantities.
The use of the term eau de vie for specific beverages shows how liquor production varies around the world, while sharing some basic essentials in nearly any culture. In America, eau de vie competes with more domestic liquors, from whiskey and related drinks, to brandies and upscale liquors pioneered in the New World, and is now marketed by large commercial companies. A good number of essentially American liquor companies operate from Appalachia and coastal communities with a lengthy history behind their products. In the American market, eau de vie is seen as one of many international liquors that may or may not be hard to find imported to a recognized state liquor distributor.
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