German Spirits

When you think of Germany and spirits, Schnapps automatically comes to mind. Schnapps is actually a collective word meaning "strong spirit". The Schnapps we drink in America is no where near what the true German Schnapps is like. The true German stuff is not sweetened. It can be distilled from grain, potatoes, fruits, or herbs. Served cold, it precedes or is consumed with a beer (a Hannoverian tradition) as an ap�ritif. Though beer and wine outweigh most German tastes in alcohol, schnapps is also served as an accompaniment to meals, and with dessert. You will see the differences below.

Korn, popular on the northern coast of Germany, is made from rye (roggen), wheat (weizen), or mixed grains (getreide), of which rye is the most popular. There are also flavored korns. After distillation korn is aged in vats, much the same as whisk(e)y. Some of the most famous and popular korns are; 
Doornkaat, which is triple distilled, and F�rst Bismarck, a getreide that dates back to the 1700's.

Liqueurs (likors) are varied in Germany. Some examples of these are; Goldwasser and Silberwasser respectively have specks of gold and silver in them and are flavored with aniseed and caraway. My favorite liqueur is Jägermeister, which is made from a secret recipe, that contains 56 herbs and spices. I am also very fond of Graf's Fränkische Pflaume. This is a superb German plum liqueur that comes from the Franconia region. Bärenjäger (bear hunter) is a honey based liqueur made since the 15th century. Fruchsaftlikors and Fruchtaromalikors are made from fruit. Eierlikors are made from eggs. The most famous of these is Verpoorten Advocaat.

Klarer or eau de vie (the French for "waters of life"), is a spirit distilled from fermented fruit juice, and is clear. So in essence, an Eau de vie can be a brandy, but a brandy is not necessarily a Eau de vie. It is a clear liquid distilled only from the fruit and no sugar is added. There is a new trend for "white brandy" in the U.S., however it should be noted that aging is not a practice, and first distillation gives the purest of essence of the fruit.Germany's Black Forest region is known for its eau de vies. Among the best known is Kirschwasser, meaning "cherry water", this is distilled from cherry juice and pits.

Made from grapes, weinbrand is much like French brandies, only sweeter and a bit fuller. These are aged in oak casks and are regulated by the government. Branntwein aus Wein are brandies that do not meet the standards set by the government. One weinbrand, Asbach Uralt is said to be the equivalent of France's Cognac. Founder, Hugo Asbach registered at the Imperial Patent Office the word, "Weinbrand", meaning brandy in 1907. It is only fitting that this should be considered the finest weinbrand, having set the standards for this type of brandy. Asbach coffee is made by lighting the brandy and is a wonderful after dinner drink.

Digestives are a common after dinner drink in Germany. 
Wacholder is made just as gin is, flavored with juniper. They are bottled in stoneware crocks. Germany's oldest is Schlichte Steinh�ger and is often used as a digestive. Underberg is a natural herbal digestive that has been used since 1846. Underberg includes vitamin B1 and is traditionally drunk from the original Underberg tall glass, after a good meal. It is made with a gin base and herbs from 43 different countries using warm maceration technique that was devised by founder, Hubert Underberg. This product is reported to be a great hangover cure.