Eau de vie, 'water of life' en français. It summons visions of medieval plague remedies, or something your grandmother might sip from a cordial glass.
Perhaps that’s why up-and-coming new marketing-savvy distilleries are avoiding the term entirely. Some are choosing to refer to it as “immature brandy,” “unaged brandy”— and some American start ups even call it “American pisco.”
Simply defined, eau de vie is a fruit brandy that has not been aged. Pears, raspberries or more importantly Cornish apples are fermented and twice distilled into clear, bracing spirits about the strength of a gin or vodka, with ghostly echoes of the fruit’s flavour but none of its residual sweetness. Imagine a subtler, more complex, farm-to-table version of flavored vodka.
Eau de vie represents a niche category in the alcohol market, but it is making headway. City bartenders have begun to embrace the drink as an appealing alternative to those other aforementioned white spirits. How would I sell it? Eau de vie is a white spirit for people who like whiskey.
In Europe it is traditionally served neat as an after-dinner drink, but it also makes for an exceptionally good cocktail component. You can mix it with soda or tonic, or swap it into classic gin or vodka cocktails like a gimlet or a Moscow mule. Jeremy Johnson, the owner of the bar Meta, recommends starting off by drinking eau de vie on the rocks with a twist of lemon, then experimenting. “It’s light and vibrant, and completely suited to two- or three-ingredient cocktails,” said Johnson. Helen, my mum, uses it in cakes. However you drink it, just be careful not to bury it among too many flavours. Unlike infused vodkas, eau de vie has nuances that are easily overpowered.
If you're interested in trying our Fowey Valley eau de vie, you can get a miniature 50ml bottle for just £5, or if you want to take the plunge, a 500ml bottle for £30. Made from our vintage cider, it's distilled five times and has hints of cherry, apricot and chocolate flavours. It's 40% ABV, and in wax sealed bottles it's the perfect gift for the alcohol aficionado in your life.