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How to Serve Eau De Vie - French Colorless Brandy

Updated on October 19, 2011
Eau De Vie with William Pears
Eau De Vie with William Pears

Eau de vie (also eaux de vie) is a French word that refers to spirits distilled from fermented fruits. It is essentially the same as the Latin aqua vitae or water of life. Any spirits made this way can be considered an eau de vie - Calvados, for instance, could be seen as an eau de vie of cider.

Given the names of these spirits are under the legal protection of France's geographical appellation contrólée regulations, you can rarely hear anyone referring to them with the actual term eau de vie. Instead, the individual spirits that fall into this category of colourless brandies are referred to by their individual names. The French also use the generic name alcools blancs.

How To Serve Eau De Vie

Best served extremely well-chilled and neat in small measures to bring out the attractiveness of the fruit aromas and flavors.

Goes well with natural mixers like soda, but not to be mixed with anything flavored.

Works best with desserts made using the same fruits that the eau de vie was made from.

Eau De Vie Fruits

Spirits are produced from grapes, apples as well as lots of other fruits, and the word eaux de vie is, in practice, reserved for these other fruit brandies. Eau de vie is distinguished from cognac and armagnac not just by its ingredients, but by its colourlessness, since they are never aged in wooden barrels. Eaux de vie is often produced from raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, plum, pear or bilberry.

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Pascall's La Vieille Prune Eau De Vie with PlumFlamboise Sauvage Eau De Vie with RaspberryFraise Eau De Vie with Strawberry
Pascall's La Vieille Prune Eau De Vie with Plum
Pascall's La Vieille Prune Eau De Vie with Plum
Flamboise Sauvage Eau De Vie with Raspberry
Flamboise Sauvage Eau De Vie with Raspberry
Fraise Eau De Vie with Strawberry
Fraise Eau De Vie with Strawberry

Eau De Vie Production

What is unique about eau de vie is that it is considered by its makers to develop in glass, while other types of spirits are known to stop evolving once bottled. The most delicious eau de vie tends to be produced from various soft summer berries, especially in Alsace, a wine region in the northeast of France, where some winemakers took it upon themselves to produce their own unique colourless brandies. Other famous eau de vie producing countries are Switzerland and Germany.

Eaux de vie is always characterised by high alcohol content, usually around 45% ABV, and clear fruity aromas and flavours. They are never sweetened and are quite different from the coloured, syrupy liqueurs of the same flavours.

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