The Anatomy of a Great Schnapps

There’s cheap schnapps at the supermarket and then there’s quality liqueur from a distillery that’s been brewing for a few hundred years. Schnapps is made differently on every continent. But there’s a few tell-tale signs that will help you tell good from great.

The name

What’s in a name? Pedigree, prestige, and a reputation. Think of your hairdresser or barber. Why go to the same salon if the person who knows your hair best has moved to another location a few streets away?

The same example applies to distilleries. People are loyal to brands because they make quality goods and will buy from them repeatedly, even if it’s not accessible in Australia. These include great schnapps from the Ernst Group and Scheibel. Thank God for online shopping!


The process

The same way KFC has its 11 herbs and spices, distilleries have unique processes that give the final product a unique selling point.

Scheibel has a method set not in stone, but gold. Yes, really. At their distillery in the Black Forest region, the vats are lined with 22-karat gold. This traps the fats and sulfides created during the fermentation period.

Specht liqueur uses the pulp and natural juices of the fruit. The stone or seeds are kept well away. The fermentation and distilling process brings out the natural sugars in the schnapps. To add any sweeteners after the fact is a cardinal sin.


Who’s buying

Let’s look at Danziger Goldwasser. This herbal schnapps started out as an alchemy experiment. Its claim to fame was the real gold flakes suspended in the liqueur. Then one day Peter the Great made a trip to Germany in order to open an embassy. He was so besotted with the schnapps he had it on permanent order to his palaces in Russia. High society soon followed his lead and started ordering the stuff for themselves.

The monarchy’s influence has waned for the most part with bars and restaurants taking its place. They will only buy what’s good quality and authentic. They won’t buy schnapps with ‘essence of fruit’. They’ll purchase the real deal from overseas and have it imported if they’re committed to quality.

Next time you consider buying something for the Christmas/Easter/family dinner, think about the above points. The anatomy of a great schnapps goes beyond taste.


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