Eau-de-Vie (Eaux-de-Vie in the plural) is French for 'water of life' and refers to a wide variety of fruit-based distilled beverages. The production process for eaux-de-vie is very similar to that for most other spirits; the raw material is harvested, crushed and fermented, and the resulting must distilled in order to separate impurities from the alcohol. The resulting beverage is bottled at somewhere between 35% and 50% ABV.
The fruits used to make eaux-de-vie are commonly orchard fruits such as apples, pears, plums, cherries and blackberries. Grapes can also be used, although grape-based spirits (e.g. Cognac and Armagnac) are usually categorized as brandies. The latter have an amber hue developed during barrel-ageing, while grape-based eaux-de-vie that has not been aged in barrel are colorless, such as Eau-de-Vie de Marc de Bourgogne, Eau-de-Vie de Vin de Bourgogne and Marc d'Alsace.
Northern France's famous apple-based spirit, Calvados, is also an eau-de-vie, but is often classed as a brandy because it is aged in wooden barrels.
Italy's most famous strong alcohol, grappa, straddles the accepted definitions of eau-de-vie and brandy, as some are aged in barrel and others are not. (See Grappa di Toscana.)
Synonyms include: Fruit Brandy.
Food matches include:
Europe: Smoked salmon canapés
Australasia/Oceania: Orange chocolate