Every now and then, TTB approves another eau de vie. This leads to wondering if it’s the same as brandy. At long last, Tim Patterson has explained how they differ:
Unlike grape brandy, eau de vie puts the emphasis on freshness, liveliness, and capturing the intense essence of fruit — rather than on depth, weight, and the complexity that comes from years of interaction between spirit, oxygen and wood.
In the market for distilled spirits, dominated by slick, multi-million-dollar ad campaigns for super-premium vodkas and single malts, eau de vie is nearly invisible. If there’s something smaller than a niche market, eau de vie has it sewn up.
Yet for those who seek it out, and are persistent enough to find it, great eau de vie can be an exquisite experience.
The name translates as “water of life,” a reminder that the invention of distillation in the 17th century came in pursuit of cures for plagues like cholera.
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Put another way, eau de vie is the anti-vodka. The point of vodka distillation is to remove all those annoying flavors; the point...