eau de vie

eau de vie (ohduh vee; English oh duh vee) noun


Also eau-de-vie or eaux-de-vie. The French term literally meaning “water of life,” referring to a clear fruit brandy made from fruit other than grapes. The term eau-de-vie was coined in the 1200s by alchemist Arnaud de Ville-Neuve. 1

You can easily find eau de vie made from apples, berries and other stone fruits. 2 It is occasionally made from grapes, however, then referred to as eaux-de-vie de vin.

The fruit is fermented and distilled, sometimes double-distilled, and is typically not aged in wooden casks, leaving the beverage clear. Some distillers do age their formula, however. The flavor is highly alcoholic with a dry fruit essence; they are typically 40% or 80 proof and imbibed as a digestif.

Some famous eau de vie are Hungarian Barack Palinka, made from apricots; Kirsh or kirshwasser from Switzerland, based on cherries and used in the famous Zuger Kirschtorte as well as in classic cheese fondue; poire Williams is pear-flavored and made in Germany, Switzerland and Alsace, France.



  1. Exposition Universelle des Vins & Spiritueux
  2. The Drink Shop

Image: Dédé Wilson

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