PLEASE NOTE: All Virginia ABC stores will be closing at 6 pm on Monday, May 27, 2024, in observance of Memorial Day.
Virginia ABC > Products > Discovery > Product Knowledge > Schnapps Guide

Buying Guide for Schnapps

Label of schnapps

"Schnapps" is a German term for a strong alcoholic drink, flavored with fruit or herbs and spices, either through the distillation process or by mixing ingredients with a neutral spirit. Flavors such as peach, apple, peppermint and cinnamon are especially popular. Due to the wide variety of  flavors, schnapps have great versatility in cocktails and desserts.

Know the Label

These terms commonly appear on schnapps labels. For further information about schnapps, please ask the staff at your Virginia ABC store.

"American"-style schnapps typically are made by mixing flavorings and sugar with a neutral grain spirit. This term does not necessarily apply to German-style schnapps crafted in the United States.
Imported schnapps typically originate in Germany and come in two forms, fruit and herbal. Fruit-based schnapps, like brandies or eaux-de-vie, are distilled from fermented fruit such as apples, cherries, plums or pears. These are clear spirits, approximately 80 proof or higher, without added sugar. Similar products include kirschwasser (cherry), slivovitz (plum) and poire William (pear) eaux-de-vie. Herbal schnapps, like many liqueurs, are flavored by herbal infusions (such as peppermint and cinnamon).
Original recipe
In Europe, schnapps have long been made at home by steeping flavorings in neutral grain spirits. Schnapps that boast an "original recipe" or "traditional German recipe" come out of this tradition and are usually flavored by herbal or fruit infusions.
Premium schnapps are generally unsweetened and made in the German style, via fruit-based distillation or herbal infusion. They may be chilled and consumed straight, as aperitifs and digestifs.

Cocktail Conversation

Essentially, as a strong alcoholic drink distilled from fermented vegetable matter, schnapps may be crafted from any ingredient that can be fermented, which opens tremendous possibilities for unusual versions of the spirit. In Germany, these include schnapps based on ingredients such as asparagus, garlic, rosemary, carrots and rowanberries!
Spirited Virginia Q2 logo


Spirited Virginia is your guide to new products, creative cocktails, in-store tastings, promotions and what's hot in the world of spirits and entertaining (21 or older).

Social Media

Follow Spirited Virginia on Facebook.

Quarterly Magazine

Spirited Virginia Magazine cover 

Read it online or pick up a free copy at your local Virginia ABC store. View all issues.


Sign up for the Spirited Virginia e-newsletter to stay informed about the latest news about products.

Sip Responsibly

Virginia ABC empowers its customers to make mindful choices about alcohol. Browse our Sip Responsibly section for information and resources to keep Virginians safe and healthy.