A bottle of Calvados, a French fruit spirit made from apples

Fruit brandy (or fruit spirit)[1] is a distilled beverage produced from mash, juice, wine or residues of edible fruits. The term covers a broad class of spirits produced across the world, and typically excludes beverages made from grapes, which are referred to as plain brandy (when made from distillation from wine) or pomace brandy (when made directly from grape pomace). Apples, pears, apricots, plums and cherries are the most commonly used fruits.


According to a legal definition in the United States, a "fruit brandy" is distilled "solely from the fermented juice or mash of whole, sound, ripe fruit, or from standard grape, citrus, or other fruit wine, with or without the addition of not more than 20 percent by weight of the pomace of such juice or wine, or 30 percent by volume of the lees of such wine, or both."[2][3]

In the European Union, fruit spirits may not be labeled as "fruit brandy"; instead, the legal English denomination is fruit spirit, which is "produced exclusively by the alcoholic fermentation and distillation of fleshy fruit or must of such fruit, berries or vegetables, with or without stones".[4] A great number of European fruit spirits have a protected designation of origin, and are labeled with their respective protected names instead of "fruit spirit" ("apricot spirit", etc.). Cider spirit and perry spirit (fruit spirit distilled from cider or perry) form a separate legal category. Some fruit spirits may be labeled with alternative names such as kirsch (cherry spirit) or slivovitz (plum spirit) regardless of their country of origin.[1] Cider Brandy is defined in EC law as a distinct cask-aged product produced in the UK, distilled from cider made by fermenting traditional cider apple varieties.[5] This includes “Somerset Cider Brandy”, which is specifically protected as a Geographical Indication (GI) within the United Kingdom.[6] It is typically sold at 42% ABV.

In British usage, "fruit brandy" may also refer to liqueurs obtained by maceration of whole fruits, juice or flavoring in a distilled beverage, and such liqueurs are legally labeled as "cherry brandy", "apricot brandy" etc. all across the European Union.[1] Such beverages are used similarly to cordials, and as an ingredient in cocktails and cakes. Fruit spirits obtained by distillation are often referred to by the French term eau de vie.[7]

Fruit spirit usually contains 40% to 45% ABV (80 to 90 US proof). It is often colourless. Fruit spirit is customarily drunk chilled or over ice, but is occasionally mixed.


Slivovitz, a plum brandy common in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.

Including some of the above, there are about 80[8] different kinds of fruit spirits in the European Union, registered with protected designations of origin from Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Spain. Most of these fruit spirits are named after their region of origin and base ingredients. For example: Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser (cherry spirit of the Black Forest), Framboise d'Alsace (raspberry of Alsace), Aprikot dell'Alto Adige (apricot of South Tyrol), etc. They are often regulated more strictly than generic fruit spirits: as well as limiting their region of origin, restrictions may include fruit variants, mashing and fermenting technology, distilling apparatus, barrel aging, etc.[1]

Among the better known fruit spirits are:

Health issues


Main article: Moonshine

Although methanol is not produced in toxic amounts by fermentation of sugars from grain starches,[14] it is a major occurrence in fruit spirits.[15] However, in modern times, reducing methanol with the absorption of a molecular sieve is a practical method for production.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008". EUR-Lex.
  2. ^ "Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, Title 27 Code of Federal Regulations, Pt. 5.22" (PDF). Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  3. ^ Y. H. Hui, E. Özgül Evranuz, ed. (2012). Handbook of Plant-Based Fermented Food and Beverage Technology, Second Edition. CRC Press. ISBN 9781439849040.
  4. ^ While this category legally includes vegetable spirits, the latter, too, must be labeled truthfully according to mash ingredients. For example: "vegetable spirit" or "carrot spirit", etc.
  5. ^ "Somerset Cider Brandy Technical File" (PDF). UK Government. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Somerset Cider Brandy and Burrow Hill Cider". Somerset Cider Brandy Company. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Fruit brandy recipes". BBC. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  8. ^ See 70 items at "9. Fruit spirit" and 10 items at "10. Cider spirit and perry spirit" in Annex III.
  9. ^ a b c "Brandy". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  10. ^ "The art of making—and drinking—Marpha brandy". kathmandupost.com. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  11. ^ "यसरी बन्छ मुस्ताङको 'मार्फा ब्रान्डी'". Annapurna Post (in Nepali). Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Victory for Somerset as cider brandy wins protected status". The Guardian. 15 September 2011.
  13. ^ "ORDIN nr. 368 din 13 iunie 2008 pentru aprobarea Normelor privind definirea, descrierea, prezentarea şi etichetarea băuturilor tradiţionale româneşti" (PDF) (in Romanian). Ministerul Agriculturii si Dezvoltarii Rurale. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  14. ^ "Distillation: Some Purity Considerations". Moonshine Still. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  15. ^ Blumenthal, P; Steger, MC; Einfalt, D; Rieke-Zapp, J; Quintanilla Bellucci, A; Sommerfeld, K; Schwarz, S; Lachenmeier, DW (28 April 2021). "Methanol Mitigation during Manufacturing of Fruit Spirits with Special Consideration of Novel Coffee Cherry Spirits". Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 26 (9): 2585. doi:10.3390/molecules26092585. PMC 8125215. PMID 33925245.
  16. ^ Hui-Ling Ma; Xiu-Ping Yang; Ying Zuo (15 April 2006). "Study on Method of Decreasing Methanol in Apple Pomace Spirit". Food Science. 27 (4): 138–142.