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).
The German term Schnaps refers to any kind of strong alcoholic drink.
In Austria, Switzerland, southern Germany, and the French region of Alsace, a type of Schnaps called Obstler or Obstbrand (from the German Obst, fruit) is very popular. These spirits can also be referred to as eaux de vie, a term not used in German.
Obstler 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 Schnaps are apples, pears, plums, and cherries. Apricots are another popular fruit; they are used to make an Austrian Schnaps called Marillenschnaps. Fruits other than these five kinds are rarely used for German Schnaps. Apples are used along with pears to make a fruit brandy called Obstwasser. Pears are used to produce Poire Williams (Williamsbirne); several types of plums make Zwetschgenwasser, and cherries make Kirschwasser.
A raspberry-flavored spirit called Himbeergeist is also a Schnaps, 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.
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.