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  • Writer's pictureLynn

The Swiss and Their Schnaps

Edelbrand's distiller (and my better half) is Swiss. Although Martin has lived in the United States for over 30 years, his Swiss accent remains a beautiful reminder of Switzerland's homeland. You might wonder why I make a point of saying Switzerland. You cannot begin to imagine how many people, after learning that Martin is Swiss, remark that they've never been to Sweden. Even more amusing is the number of folks who mistake the Swiss national flag for the American Red Cross emblem.

The Language

So let's start with Switzerland's four national languages: German (spoken by 63% of the population), French (23%), Italian (9%), and Romansch (0.5%). You will find a bit of the Romansch culture spotlighted on each of our bottles, by the way. The word vinars means fruit brandy; meila is apple; péra is pear; vin is grape; plogas is plum; apricosas is apricot, and I love to pronounce, tschereschas is cherry. Edelbrand is German and translates to 'the purest of brandies.

Swiss Flag, Not The American Red Cross

The Swiss flag features a white cross against a red background. The design dates back to 1339 and is the only national flag that is square. Here, Martin stands below Switzerland's flag with the cantons Graubunden and Nidwalden's flags to the left and right.

Swiss's Best Kept Secret

The Swiss are known for their precision (think watchmaking and advanced engineering), chocolate and cheese (hello to those doe-eyed Swiss milk cows), and step-back-in-time villages found in valleys nestled among the Swiss Alps.

Not as well known to visitors are the beautiful wines and schnaps created in kept secrets, for sure! Produced in small quantities, only about 1% of the 100 million liters of Swiss wine are made available for export, mostly going to Germany. Our personal favorite is Blauburgunder, a Pinot Noir grape found in the Graubunden canton located on Switzerland's eastern side bordering Austria. If whites are more to your liking, a visit to the Valais region should be at the top of your list. The area produces dry, semi-dry and sweet wines, but the dry whites of this region will leave a lasting impression for all the right reasons.

Quality Over Quantity

Our distiller certainly looks forward to enjoying his home country's wines when returning for a visit, but he would argue nothing compares to the fruit brandies produced there. Schnaps in Europe have an entirely different origin than schnapps found in the U.S. Across the Atlantic, European schnaps are 100% fruit with only yeast and water added before an extended fermentation gets underway. Fruit trees growing in the Alps' pure alpine conditions thrive on chilly nights, sunshine-filled days, and relatively dry weather. The flavor and aroma profiles are vibrant and unique to the region. When served either in a friend's home or a local restaurant, the pride in the spirit's quality is so evident.

And it is precisely those memories in a bottle that inform the handcrafted spirits of our distillery, Edelbrand Pure Distilling. Visitors to our distillery often remark, "This is a labor of love," and they are correct. Our copper pot stills range in size from 7- to 18- gallons. Each mash tank holds just 80 pounds of the most fragrant fruit mash. Why the small scale, you may wonder? Fruit brandies are notoriously difficult to produce. The fruit has to be fresh, in season, and as ripe as possible. Fermentation lasts months. The distilling process yields distillate slightly more than a drop at a time over 6-12 hours. In short, handcrafting an authentic Swiss-inspired fruit brandy requires a commitment to quality over quantity and a considerable measure of patience. Thankfully, Edelbrand's distiller has a seemingly infinite supply of both.

Linger in the Moment

As these hot summer days turn into cooler nights, we hope you will think of adding Edelbrand to your bar. Traditionally served, a single ounce pour in a small wine glass, brandy snifter, or one of our imported glasses provides a perfect excuse to slow down and linger....the perfect ending to your day. And if you feel like adding a bit of Swissness to that moment, look companions in the eye when you clink glasses and say Santé, Proscht, or Salute!

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