French for ‘water of life’, Eau de Vie is a clear, colourless fruit brandy that is produced by means of fermentation and distillation. Typically, fruit is pressed to extract its juice, fermented with the help of yeast to create an alcoholic liquid, and then distilled it twice.
In English-speaking countries, it almost always refers to brandies made with fruit other than grapes. Confusingly however, because Eau-de-Vie is a term used in French to mean ‘spirit’ many Cognac producers refer to the distillates they blend together as being eau-de-vie.
Eau-de-vie are historically significant to European drinking culture and are a huge part of the agricultural heritage of France, Germany, Austria and Scandinavia. They were never solely considered just a tool to transform surplus fruit into alcohol, the goal of an eau-de-vie is to capture the essence of whatever it’s made from, with the best (often made from Pears, Apples, Raspberries, Cherries) commanding cult status and high price tags.