Pear brandy, known in French as eau-de-vie de poire, is a brandy that is distilled from pear juice or pear cider. While different pear varieties can be used to make these pear drinks, the most well known pear brandy brands make use of the best Williams pears grown in France and Switzerland. A brandy, known as Poire William, contains a whole, mature pear inside the bottle; the presence of the whole pear in the bottle is more of a traditional selling practice or show gimmick rather than an actual necessity for maintaining the quality of the brandy.
To make pear brandy, the best, ripe pears are selected and washed and crushed into pulp. The pulp is mixed with water and yeast, and allowed to ferment until the sugar in the fruit is released. The sugary pulp is then processed to separate the juice, and this juice is then distilled into brandy.
The newly distilled pear brandy may either be bottled as it is, or it may undergo an aging process in an oak container; aging the brandy in this manner is known to improve its taste. It is important to know that pear brandy that has been bottled will not undergo any aging; that is, there will be no difference in the taste of the brandy drink whether the bottle is opened right away or ten years hence. It will help to store the brandy bottle away from direct sunlight, and an opened bottle is best finished within a year or so.
In the case of the Poire William pear brandy, incredible as it may seem to see an entire large fruit inside a narrow necked bottle, the process of getting the fruit inside the bottle is actually quite simple. The pear is inserted into the bottle while the fruit is still very small and the bottle is tied to the branch, allowing the pear to continue growing inside the bottle. When the pear has grown to its full size, it is detached from its stem and the bottle is removed. The bottle, with the pear inside it, is now carefully hand washed, dried and then filled with the pear brandy.
Like most brandies, the pear brandy is usually consumed after a meal. It may be drunk as it is or it may be diluted with water or soda. It may also be used as an important flavoring ingredient to make various kinds of cocktails and desserts.