All About Schnapps


Remember watching the movie “Inglorious Basterds” where the German soldiers are enjoying gala time drinking schnapps with their buddies in the underground bar, right before it turns into a shoot-out? That usage of schnapps is in the very right context without any anachronism. They have known to exist well before the 18th century.

The name has been derived from a German word schnaps which refers to any clear alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented fruits. This name was further derived from snappen which meant to ‘snatch a gulp’. In earlier times, schnapps was considered as a way to make use of subpar fruits. The apples and pears which would not be sold would be used for making schnapps. Later, it made developers realise that refined schnapps could only come from nice ripe fruit. Over-time, it has evolved to take the meaning of alcoholic spirits that make you feel warm and good derived from the fruits. Schnapps are generally consumed from shot glasses a la tequila, but slightly larger, or used for creating cocktails due to their fruity flavour.

Types of Schnapps

Schnapps, for a lack of better explanation, are fruit-flavoured alcoholic beverages having the same proportion of alcohol irrespective of the flavour. There are two main categories of schnapps that differ due to their manufacturing process, the German schnapps and the American schnapps. Therefore, these can be classified into the various tastes and flavours as per their type.

German schnapps are usually created using fruits such as apples, pears, plums, peaches and cherries. Some uncommon forms are made from apricots and raspberries, too. Even carrots are used rarely but only in local manufacturing. These fruits are used either solely or in combination of two or more, both creating strong aromas and unique tastes. American schnapps, on the other hand, come in a huge array of flavours viz., apricot, banana, blackberry, black currant, butterscotch, cherry, cinnamon, coffee, grape, lemon, orange, menthol, peach, peppermint, raspberry, watermelon, honeydew, strawberry, mango, root beer, and sour apple.


Schnapps are manufactured by basically the same processes most alcoholic beverages are manufactured by. It is the raw material used and a few tweaks in the process that help schnapps stand out. There is always a necessity to maintain a balance between the fiery taste of alcohol and the clean crisp flavour of the fruit.

German schnapps are made from fermented fruits. The choice of fruit or a combination of fruits decides the final flavour of the drink. The riper the fruit, the richer is the aroma and the flavour. These fruits are mashed and, along with the juice, are allowed to be fermented over a period of time. Later, the distillation processes commences in copper stills where the fermented juice is boiled and the vapours are collected via a condenser. The collection of vapours is the most critical point in the process. The initial vapours have a very pungent, strong aroma which can be disastrous for the drink. Once that is passed away, it is only the heart of the fumes, the true tasty stuff, which is taken forward. The last few vapours have a very bale-ish smell to them, which is ignored, too. This has an alcohol-by-volume (ABV) percentage of about 65% which is then diluted to a palatable level. These can either be bottled or stored in oak casks for maturation. The alcohol-by-volume (ABV) percentage is around 32-40%.

American schnapps, on the other hand, have a completely different process. These are not manufactured from fruits. Alcoholic spirit, made from neutral grain, is diluted and mixed with fruit flavours or other flavouring agents. It is bottled after adding sugar and sometimes glycerine, giving it a syrupy texture. As this process is a far-cry from the one used for making schnapps in Europe, these beverages are sometimes referred to as liqueurs. The American schnapps may lack the rustic aroma and the mouth-feel of German schnapps but it allows for a wide array of flavours that cannot be created by the process used for the former. Flavours like coffee, menthol and butterscotch are possible in American schnapps due to the process. Also, since the dilution takes place at the neutral spirit level, the ABV percentage is controllable to a certain extent. This makes American schnapps available in ABV ranging between 15 – 50%.


Since the process of making schnapps and the fruits used differ in so many ways, the nutrition content is also varied dependent on the schnapps you choose.

Generally, schnapps like peppermint schnapps, peach schnapps, butterscotch schnapps, have calories around 72 – 102 kcal with carbs, sugar and alcohol between 6.5g to 11g per serving. Evidently, these values are true when schnapps are consumed like any other drink. When schnapps are widely used in creating cocktails, schnapps-based cocktails have typically different values.


Schnapps are available in limited types in India as its consumption is not widespread yet. Some of the brands available in India are:-

99: The 99 line of schnapps comes from the company, Barton Brands Ltd. These are generally American schnapps available in bottles of 750ml. They come in various names depending on their flavour such as 99 Apples, 99 Bananas, 99 Watermelons, 99 Whipped Cream, 99 Coconuts, etc.

Archers: Manufactured by Diageo, Archers is one of the most premium and successful brands of American schnapps. It is made from peaches and comes in an elegant bottle with white frosting. Generally sold in 700ml bottles, it has an ABV of 18%.

Rumple Minze: Again from Diageo, Rumple Minze is the German-style schnapps well-known for their peppermint flavour. It has a strong candy-sensed taste with a high alcohol content of 50% ABV.

Aftershock: A cinnamon-flavoured American schnapps, Aftershock comes in a blood-red colour in a square bottle of 375ml. It is known for having sugar crystals growing on the bottom of the bottle, giving it a sweet aftertaste to the spicy body. It has an ABV of 30% and is the favourite for mixing with drinks and getting a wild flavour.

Berentzen: Founded in 1758 in Germany, Berentzen has a long tradition of distilling fine spirit brands. Bottled to 750ml and available in flavours like apple and peach, these German schnapps are the easy to drink and have a delicious medley of freshness and aroma. The Berentzen Apple Schnapps can be extravagantly used to create a stunning Apple Martini. The ABV in these schnapps is around 20%.



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