Reisetbauer: Drink Your Fruit (and Vegetables!)

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Over the past 20 years Hans Reisetbauer has risen to the forefront of Eau-de-Vie distillation.  (Eau-de-Vie, meaning “water of life” is the evocative French name for fruit brandies.)  In Austria there is also a proud tradition of making these spirits, but one would be more likely to hear them called by their Germanic name: Schnaps.  Americans spell Schnaps with an extra p, and many have bad memories of over-indulgence in their early drinking careers of the peach or peppermint flavored varieties, but these could not be more different than Reisetbauer’s creations.  Hans is on a mission to maintain purity and concentration in his products, and to create spirits that have a remarkable resemblance to the fruits they are distilled from.  He has the benefit of having inherited an 18 hectare family farm, which he has planted to orchards of apple and pear.  The advantage of having estate fruit is that Hans can pick, by hand, immediately instead of waiting for shipments from Spain or elsewhere. 

Making Brandy to Hans’ specifications is a complicated and costly task.  First, you must start with tons and tons of fruit, literally – it can take up to 90 pounds of fruit to produce one liter of alcohol.  Hans adds nothing to his distillates – no artificial flavors or sugar. The fruit is crushed quickly and distilled in copper pot stills specially designed by Hans and German still-making legend Christian Carl of CARL brand craft stills.  Hans retains a very small “cut” (the middle part of the liquid that comes off of the still) and throws out the “heads” and the “tails” (these are the first and last of what comes off of the still, and often contain volatile compounds and ethyl alcohols — at most distilleries heads and tails are re-distilled and blended into the final spirit as a cost saving measure.)  After the second distillation, the spirit is a robust 80-85% alcohol.  In order to make them more palatable, the brandy ages for several years in tanks with the gradual addition of local, spring water with a high PH level that contributes to the lushness of the Schnaps.  At the end of this process, the Schnaps are about 42% alcohol and bursting with fresh fruit flavor.  We don’t use hyperbole often, but these are the best spirits of their genre and a must-try.  JR

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Reisetbauer Carrot Eau-de-Vie 375ml

A neighboring farmer had a problem with ugly carrots. When he sold at markets, customers wanted to buy the aesthetically perfect specimens so he was left with tons of delicious, but mis-shaped vegetables. He convinced Hans that the world needed a carrot Schnapps. What does it taste like? Well, like a super-concentrated carrot with lots of sweet and earthy flavors.  Because the carrots have less sugar than fruit, it takes a whopping 90 pounds of vegetables to make a liter of alcohol!  JR

  • Out of Stock
  • eau-de-vie
  • 0 in stock
  • $75.99

Reisetbauer Williams Pear Eau-de-Vie 375ml

Hans’s Pear is perhaps the world’s best Poire Williams.  The orchards are on Hans’ property, so he is able to pick the exact time for harvesting, allowing him to pick once for under-ripe and acidic fruit and once for more fleshy and sugary fruit later in the fall.  The two pickings are distilled separately, and then blended for the second and final distillation.  The result is a spirit that shows the complexity of several stages of the pears ripeness.  The Schnaps has lots of spice and golden pear flavors that leave the palate refreshed.  The current release is from the 2010 harvest and shows a mellowed richness from time spent in steel tank and bottle.  JR

  • Out of Stock
  • eau-de-vie
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $79.99

Reisetbauer Plum Eau-de-Vie 375ml

Plum is a deep, round, lush, brandy with tons of toffee and chocolate tones. Compared to some of Hans’ other spirits, this shows lower, more bass-heavy character and a bit more viscosity.  Every year Hans works with about 70-90 tons of Hausplum, a plum variety from Yugoslavia—each plum must have the pit carefully removed in order to avoid any bitter or astringent flavors.  The current release is from the 2008 harvest.  JR

  • Out of Stock
  • eau-de-vie
  • 0 in stock
  • $61.99

Reisetbauer Raspberry Eau-de-Vie 375ml

Raspberry is one of the only fruit spirits that Hans makes without produce from his farm.  The wild raspberries are foraged in Serbia, flash frozen, and then shipped to Austria for distillation.  Having had the great pleasure of trying the Reisetbauer lineup several times, I can say that the Raspberry is always my favorite.   The aromatics are stunning, and can be smelled several feet away from the glass.  As in all of Hans’ spirits, it tastes of the fruit, but also a whole kaleidoscope of flavors like lemon skin and fresh herbs.  It took over 70lbs of fruit to create 1 liter of spirit.  Highly recommended.  JR

  • Out of Stock
  • eau-de-vie
  • 0 in stock
  • $145.99