An eau de vie (French for spirits, literally “water of life”) is a clear, colourless fruit brandy that is produced by means of fermentation and double distillation. The fruit flavor is typically very light. Eaux de vie are typically not aged in wooden casks, hence they are clear. Although this is the usual practice, some distillers age their products before bottling.
In English-speaking countries, eau de vie refers to a distilled beverage made from fruit other than grapes. In French, however, eau de vie is a generic term for distilled spirits. The proper French term for fruit brandy is eau-de-vie de fruit, while eau-de-vie de vin means wine spirit (brandy), and several further categories of spirits (distilled from grape pomace, lees of wine, beer, cereals, etc.) are also legally defined as eau-de-vie in a similar fashion. Many eaux de vie made from fruits, wine, pomace, or rye have a protected designation of origin within the European Union.
Most commonly available flavors in France are eau de vie de poire (pear)—known as eau de vie de Poire Williams when made from the Williams pear—Eau de vie de framboise (raspberries), eau de vie de pomme (apple), eau de vie de mirabelle (yellow plum), and eau de vie de pêche (peach). When made from pomace, it is called pomace brandy or marc.
In the Caribbean, eaux-de-vie are made from tropical fruits such as banana, ambarella, guava, mango, pineapple, and sapodilla.
The term can also refer to maple eau de vie, made from maple syrup.