You sit down at a well-appointed bar and gaze at rows of bottles, their multitude of colours reflected in the backing mirror creating a shimmering liquid kaleidoscope of flavour possibilities. It’s difficult to choose which one to try first, the options are many and mouthwatering. Tonight, you want something different, so you will pass on your usual brown bourbons and clear gins in favour of the siren call of tints and hues glittering under the bar light’s friendly glow.
The liqueur adventure you are about to embark on is called Schnapps, and you are in for a treat!
Schnapps is the official tipple of the nation of Austria, so as an Australian you already feel a certain kinship based simply on the shared letters. Austrians have been perfecting these brandies made from distilled fruits for centuries, and there are a dizzying number of recipes to sample, each with its own unique hue and taste.
Austrians rarely adulterate their Schnapps by using it as a cocktail mix, preferring to consume it straight from the bottle in shots. The drink is enjoyed before, during, and after meals under the belief that it is an aid to digestion, making it not only an aperitif, but also a follow-up to a fine dinner. If you happen to eat a bit too much, you are excused for washing it all down with a nice shot of Schnapps.
Schnapps is a spirit distilled from fermenting fruit and is considered to be a fruit brandy. After harvest, the fruits are seeded and mashed. They are not washed as that removes the natural yeast necessary for fermentation. Once the fruit begins to ferment, several litres of cool water are added to the mixture.
The liquid is transitioned to an air-locked pot kept in a warm place. Somewhere between 20 and 45 days are required to finish the fermentation process. Then the results are placed in a distillation still. When it’s ready, the mixture is bottled up and stored in a cool place for 3-5 days to stabilise the taste.
Some of the popular types of Schnapps are Obstwasser made with apples and pears, Zwetschgenwasser made with a variety of different plums, Poire Williams made with pears, and the famed cherry Kirschwasser and Marillenschnaps apricot brandy.
Whatever your individual tastes there is a Schnapps for you, we recommend you try them all to find it!