Schnapps (/ʃnɑːps/ or /ʃnæps/) or schnaps is a type of alcoholic beverage that may take several forms, including distilled fruit brandies,[1] herbal liqueurs, infusions, and "flavored liqueurs" made by adding fruit syrups, spices, or artificial flavorings to neutral grain spirits.

Alcohol by volume60–80 proof (30-40 Vol-%)
FlavourTypically raspberry, apple, pear, plum, cherry, peach, or apricot

The English loanword "schnapps" is derived from the colloquial German word Schnaps [ʃnaps] (listen) (plural: Schnäpse),[2][3] which is used in reference to spirit drinks.[4] The word Schnaps stems from Low German and is related to the German term "schnappen", meaning "snap", which refers to the spirit usually being consumed in a quick slug from a small glass (i.e., a shot glass).[5]


Three bottles of German Schnapps, made from Mirabelle plums, sloes, and Williams pears.

The German term Schnaps refers to "any kind of strong, dry spirit",[6] similar to how eau de vie (water of life) is used in French, aguardiente (burning water) in Spanish, or aguardente Portuguese.


An Obstler, or Obstbrand (from the German Obst, fruit and Brand, brandy),[7] is a traditional type of schnaps made by fermenting macerated fruit and distilling to produce a clear, unsweetened fruit brandy. Obstler is traditionally produced in Austria, Switzerland, southern Germany, and the culturally German regions of Alsace and Lorraine in modern-day France. Obstler is mainly associated with the southern part of the German-language area; in northern Germany, almost all traditional distilled beverages are grain-based.

The main kinds of fruit used for Obstbrände are apples, apricots, cherries, pears, plums (both mirabelle and purple plums), and quinces. Fruits other than these are rarely used. Apples together with pears produce Obstwasser (fruit water); pears are used to produce Birnenbrand; when made from the Williams pear, it is known as Poire Williams or Williamsbrand. Several types of plums make Zwetschgenwasser ("plum water"); cherries make kirschwasser ("cherry water"); and apricots are used to make Austrian Marillenschnaps (apricot brandy).

The different kinds of Obstler are similar to the varieties of Rakija found in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Slivovitz is a popular schnapps made from Damson plums found throughout the region; pálinka is a traditional distilled beverage made of any fruits grown in Hungary.


Himbeergeist made from wild raspberries in the Black Forest region of Germany

A Geist[8] (meaning "spirit" in German) is a type of schnapps, similar to fruit brandy, that is created by infusing macerated fresh berries in neutral spirits[9][10] and steeping for some time before distillation. Neutral alcohol is necessary because many berries have a sugar content that is too low to economically ferment and distill; raspberries, for instance, contain between 4.5 and 6.0% sugar.[9][11]

The most common Geist is Himbeergeist, made from raspberries. Other common fruits are blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, currants, rowanberries, apricots, peaches, and sloes.[9] Other flavorings are also possible, such as nuts, herbs, or rose petals.[8]


Many liqueurs referred to as schnapps, but distinct from fruit brandies, are created by the addition of herbal or fruit flavors to a neutral spirit by various methods. The neutral spirit used can vary by location and tradition.

The most popular schnapps in the UK is peach schnapps.[12] It can be enjoyed in many ways; most prefer it on the rocks or mixed with other drinks to form a variety of cocktails.[13] It is made by adding peach flavouring to a neutral grain spirit. It is typically clear and has a strong, sweet taste. It became popular in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s.[14] The leading brand is Archers, but some large supermarkets do have their own branded peach schnapps, which is sold at a reduced price.[15] Archers peach schnapps is more similar to the American style of schnapps.

Kräuterlikör (herbal liqueur) is similar to Italian amaro. Well-known brands include Jägermeister, Underberg, Kuemmerling, Killepitsch, and Wurzelpeter.


An inexpensive, heavily sweetened form of liqueur[16] is made in America by mixing neutral grain spirit with fruit syrup, spices, or other flavors. Referred to as "schnapps",[6] these are bottled with an alcohol content typically between 15 and 20% ABV (30–40 proof), though some may be much higher. Schnapps, specifically peach and peppermint schnapps, exploded in popularity in America in the 1980s.[6]

See also

  • Brandy  Spirit produced by distilling wine
  • Korn (liquor)  German colorless grain spirit
  • Pálinka  Central European alcohol
  • Snaps  Small shot of a strong alcoholic beverage taken during the course of a meal


  1. "schnapps - Definition of schnapps in US English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries - English. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  2. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2011. p. 1562. ISBN 978-0-547-04101-8.
  3. Wahrig: Deutsches Wörterbuch (Munich: Bertelsmann, 2006). See Branntwein at p. 298 and Schnaps at p. 1305.
  4. "Duden | Schnaps | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Herkunft" [Definition of Schnaps in German]. Duden German Dictionary (in German). Bibliographisches Institut GmbH. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  5. Kluge: Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 23., erweiterte Auflage (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999), 734.
  6. Prial, Frank (27 October 1985). "Schnapps, the Cordial Spirit". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  7. Wahrig: Deutsches Wörterbuch (Munich: Bertelsmann, 2006). See Obstler at p. 1087, "aus einer Obstsorte hergestellter Branntwein."
  8. "Directive 110". 15 January 2008. on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89 §16, §17
  9. "Spirituosenlexikon". Die Schnapsbrenner (in German). Archived from the original on 10 April 2008.
  10. "Fachlexikon". (in German). Archived from the original on 9 October 2007.
  11. Prial, Frank J. (18 February 1979). "Fruits of the Distiller's Art". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  12. Clark, Matthew (2020). "Archers Peach Schnapps". Matthew Clark. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  13. Graham, Colleen (9 May 2020). "20 Deliciously Sweet Peach Schnapps Cocktails". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  14. Magyarics, Kelly (24 May 2019). "What the #$@! Do I Do with This? Peach Schnapps. What It Is and How to Use It". Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  15. "ASDA Peach Schnapps". ASDA groceries. 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  16. Lichine, Alexis (1987). Alexis Lichine's New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 306–307.
  • Media related to Schnapps at Wikimedia Commons

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.