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The Tippling Point | A snapshot of schnapps

How is German schnapps different from British and American schnapps, and what are the world's favourite five schnapps?

October 23, 2021 / 03:26 PM IST
Schnapps is traditionally made with fruit juices, though today it is also available in flavours like mint, butterscotch and chocolate.

Schnapps is traditionally made with fruit juices, though today it is also available in flavours like mint, butterscotch and chocolate.

Want to sip something lighter and sweeter this time? A drop to help your stomach grind down that big chunk of fat you chomped on during your meal? How about trying some schnapps?

If you're in Germany, where people eat their biggest meal of the day at noon, schnapps comes as a lifesaver. At restaurants, liquor stores, homes, wherever you turn, you'd be offered a shot of the drink that comes in a variety of flavours. Or if you don't like it from the outside, why not make your own at home? Peppermint schnapps is best to begin experimenting.

manu remakant logo the-tippling-point-logo1-RSo what is Schnapps?

The word comes from Low German. It means a strong spirit taken in a quick slug from a tiny glass. It is distilled from fermented fruit juices (they call it mash) along with a base liquor. It is often considered a fruit brandy or eau de vie. The clear distilled spirit that emerges out of the process has a distinct flavour of the fruit from which it takes birth. Schnapps has unique cultural codings in different parts of Europe. 

While Germany holds it close to its bosom, there is a big tradition in countries like Hungary where schnapps is produced from various fruits. Obstler or Obstbrand is also a kind of schnapps in countries like Switzerland, Austria and various regions in Germany. Apples, pears, cherries, plums and apricots are all used to make the beverage. Come to England the most famous schnapps is the one made from peach.

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Though traditionally schnapps is made from a mixture of fruit juices, herbs and spices, modern schnapps is so catholic in spirit that it accepts even flavours like mint, butterscotch and chocolate. When you catch schnapps in the US, it may surprise you with its dryness. Here, the spirit is made by mixing fruit syrup with spirit made from grains such as rye, wheat, oats, barley or buckwheat.

How should you take schnapps? The spirit is often considered a digestif that can be taken neat. It is also popular among bartenders for making cocktails.

Here are some of the most popular schnapps in the world.

1. Berentzen Plum Schnapps 

Johann Bernhard Berentzen operated a small distillery in the mid-18th century selling a variety of liquors to local people in Haselunne, Germany. When his fruit brandies (schnapps) got very popular, he registered a company for making liquor branded as 'Berenzten from the Barrel.' Later Berentzen took the revolutionary step to mix schnapps with apple juice, creating the phenomenal 'Berentzen Apple' tipple that became a rage all over the world.

2. Teichen Butterscotch Schnapps

Ever since Juan Teichenne Senaux started making this grain spirit with the help of fruits and water from the Pyrenees, this butterscotch schnapps has been high on the priority list. The high-class schnapps is a favourite among bartenders all over the world. The distillery is situated in the small Spanish Village of L’Arboc.

3. Henkes Schnapps 

For the last 200 years, Henkes has been making Schnapps, first as a health tonic and later as a celebratory drink taken on the occasion of births and marriages in countries like Nigeria. Made from spices and herbs and fermented with grain spirit, this schnapps is quadruple distilled to bag the title of one of the purest schnapps experiences you can ever have. 

4. Jungfrau Herbal Schnapps

Have you ever heard about the Meyer brothers who wanted to climb the Swiss Bernese Mountains, known as Jungfrau? This schnapps takes a leaf from the heroes who during their arduous climb kept a flask of fermented herbs and spices to ward off the effects of extreme climate on the way to the top. The tipple contains more than 40 spices and roots which are fermented and distilled with a base spirit. Your tongue will tease apart flavours of fruits and flowers which are also thrown into the brew in good measure.

5. Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps

Would you like to have some gold in your drink? You needn't rub your eyes. The Swiss drink, Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps indeed has tiny flakes of gold floating in the liquid. To be exact, there is 13 mg of gold in a single bottle of Goldschlager. Though the company, owned by Diageo, moved its production to Italy, it returned to its home country Switzerland soon.
Manu Remakant is a freelance writer who also runs a video blog — A Cup of Kavitha — introducing world poetry to Malayalis. The views expressed here are personal.
first published: Oct 23, 2021 03:15 pm

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