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What is Schnapps?


Question: What is Schnapps?
What is schnapps? How is schnapps different from a liqueur, or is schnapps a liqueur? One would think this is an easy answer, but of course, it's a little complicated.

Schnapps is a type of distilled spirit that has two meanings. Essentially, schnapps are made by fermenting the fruit along with the base liquor (usually brandy), whereas liqueurs are often made by steeping fruits in alcohol after fermentation and/or distillation. The result of the schnapps process is a stronger, (often) clear distilled spirit, much like a lightly flavored vodka.


The word 'schnapps' is German for 'snap' and is used in German to mean either a shot of or any strong distilled spirit, particularly those of at least 32% alcohol/volume (64 proof). The term is used to describe strong, colorless, sometimes flavored liquor, and can also be used for a Dutch spirit distilled from potatoes, or German or Austrian fruit brandies.

North American:

In the United States, schnapps is used to describe a category of liquors that are often on the lower end of the quality spectrum (though there are exceptions and good schnapps can be found at a higher price). These spirits are often drier than their sweet liqueur counterparts (e.g. peppermint schnapps is less sweet than creme de menthe) and are flavored with a variety of fruits and spices. Some schnapps use a mix of flavors, can be considered outlandish, and can also be very tart, bitter, and not the best to mix with.

Examples of schnapps flavors include:

*Marks the most popular flavors of schnapps.

Brands that Produce a Variety of Schnapps:

  • 99
  • Arrow
  • DeKuyper
  • Dr. McGillicuddy
  • Hiram Walker
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