Schnapps (// or //) is a "strong alcoholic drink resembling gin and often flavored with fruit." The English word "schnapps" is derived from the German Schnaps [ʃnaps] ( listen) (plural: Schnäpse).
In Austria, Switzerland, southern Germany, and the French region of Alsace, a type of schnapps called Obstler or Obstbrand (from the German Obst, fruit) is very popular. Obstler, which are fruit brandies, are mainly associated with the southern part of the German-language area. In northern Germany, almost all traditional distilled beverages are grain-based.
The main kinds of fruit used for German schnapps are apples, pears, plums, cherries, and apricots. Fruits other than these five are rarely used. Apples are used along with pears to make Obstwasser (fruit water); pears are used to produce Poire Williams (Williamsbirne, William's pear); several types of plums make Zwetschgenwasser (plum water); cherries make Kirschwasser (cherry water); and apricots are used to make Austrian Marillenschnaps (apricot brandy).
A raspberry-flavored spirit called Himbeergeist (raspberry spirit) is also a schnapps, although it is not produced by means of fermenting raspberries (Himbeeren), which produce a low yield of alcohol due to their low sugar content. Instead, rectified spirit is infused with fresh raspberries, and this mixture is then distilled.
The different kinds of Obstler are similar to the varieties of Rakija found in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
American schnapps are alcoholic beverages that are produced by mixing neutral grain spirit with fruit or other flavors. This mixture is then bottled with added sugar and (usually) glycerine, producing a smooth, syrup-like drink with an alcohol content of between 15% and 50% ABV (30–100 proof).
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2011. p. 1562. ISBN 978-0-547-04101-8.
- Wahrig: Deutsches Wörterbuch (Munich: Bertelsmann, 2006). See Branntwein at p. 298 and Schnaps at p. 1305.
- Kluge: Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 23., erweiterte Auflage (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999), 734.
- Wahrig: Deutsches Wörterbuch (Munich: Bertelsmann, 2006). See Obstler at p. 1087, "aus einer Obstsorte hergestellter Branntwein."
- Examples are Hot Damn 100 Proof Cinnamon Schnapps produced by DeKuyper and Southern Comfort produced by Brown-Forman.
- Lichine, Alexis. Alexis Lichine’s New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), 306–307.