For a decade or two I’ve been partial to an eau-de-vie as a digestif so I thought I would see if anyone else is so inclined, and if so, what are their favourites?
Mine are mainly bought on the continent, and both at home or in restaurants there, my staple is Framboise/Himbeergeist. The best one I remember at a restaurant was in a hotel that had seen better days in Michelstadt-Erbach, Germany.
For home consumption I mainly drink Framboise and other eaux-de-vie from Othon Schmitt of Hellange, Luxembourg.
For a change I sometimes have a bottle in stock from Morand’s excellent range from Martigny, Switzerland. If staying at a hotel in the town, one can get a discount at their shop.
At the speciality end I currently have Damassine d’Ajoie, made from pink damsons by Fleury-Perret of Porrentruy, Switzerland and Doyenné du Comice Pear from Capreolus Distillery of Cirencester, England.
I like the plum ones, have a fabulous bottle brought back from Hungary a while ago. Also enjoy Kaoliang occasionally. Favourite though probably a good grappa. I don’t have any names to share, I drink them so rarely but perfect end to a special meal.
Shame not much of a selection on TWS site, but spirits slowly getting better so one day.
Ages in wood. It is gorgeous. Bought a bottle at the distillery on recommendation of locals. It is available in this country I think.
Apart from that I made my own plum and raspberry liqueurs this summer with that alcohol pour les fruits you can buy in France. I’ve tried gin and vodka before, so thought I would give this neutral spirit a try. It’s a bit rough on its own but great once the fruit has worked its magic. No sugars added - so our diabetic friend can also partake. The fruit tasted nice too!
A rather specialist interest I suspect! Like @tom, I’m partial to the occasional plum/slivovitz example. They get called “plum brandy”, which is confusing as they are genuinely distilled spirits, unlike cherry brandy which is a macerated liqueur. As is sloe gin., of which we make loads as we have several hundred feet of sloe hedge.
I suppose kirsch is the best-known in this country, though I find its flavour somewhat too insistent. It’s useful in the kitchen, though, esp. in chocolatey things, in moderation.
I once was offered some stuff made from a species of sorb apples, which was utterly disgusting.
Mirabelle Schnapps is my little vice, though it’s a rare treat in our house, as my other half hates spirits (alcoholic and metaphysical).
Years ago, whilst visiting friends in Swabia, I was offered a ‘delicacy’ which I had problem swallowing and making enthusiastic noises about; turnes out it was ‘Roots schnapps’… An awful concoction of old Tyrolian herbs which smelt (and tasted!) like old soggy tobacco. I still have nightmares about it…
I never used to get on with this. But then, there are three distilleries in our valley in Alsace, and I’ve developed quite a taste for it, though obtaining it in the UK would be quite hard. I tend to find the plum ones a bit too much like a chemistry lab, but there are some really nice fruity ones - wild raspberries are lovely, poire williams is pretty good, and prunelles de buisson (sloes, apparently), taste amazingly like marzipan when made into eaux de vie rather than macerated in gin. There are some that are positively weird/nasty (pine buds - just say no). But the most surprisingly good comes from holly berries (baies de houx). Yes, they are poisonous. But they distill really nicely!
Marolo grappa from Piedmont is fantastic and comes in a whole range of grape varieties. It can be tracked down here but you can often get it in duty free at Italian airports. Having run out of that, I’m now on one from Beppe Tosolini in Friuli which I got from Noble Grape.
It’s the stone kernels I understand. I think the stones are cracked before fermentation, and the amygdalin they contain is thereby extracted. You could probably do the same with your sloe gin, if you want that authentic cyanide flavour.
Aboslutely agree about Marolo. I brought some back from Alba a few years ago when I was there for the truffle festival.
I do drink grappa considerably more often than eaux-de-vie. I used to get some excellent mono-varietals from a Luxembourg hypermarket but they no longer stock them. I brought a good variety of northen Italian grappas back this year from a local supermarket in Luino on Lago Maggiore, and as I was driving, I stopped in Ticino to pick up some of the Matasci grappa made from what they call American grapes.
Mentioning “stills” reminds me of a village called Santa Massenza that we went through a few years ago en route to Riva del Garda. We stopped for a look around as there weren’t many buildings but its claim to fame was that there were five stills there.
In the town of Machtum on the Mosel in Luxembourg there is a permanent village still for communal use.
A very good friend is from Alsace, her father distills his own e.d.v. which range from palest blue rocket fuel ( great for the fondu burner) to exceptional evening primrose flowers spirit. All in unlabeled bottles!