It’s all natural – theTyrol’s award-winning schnapps varieties
The fine spirits fromInnsbruck and its holiday villages
What today ranks among Tyrolean top-class culinary delicacies used to be considered nothing other than ordinary ‘spirits’. While beer or wine had to be transported from further afield, the foundation for schnapps was readily available right at the farmers’ doorstep. Fruits such as apple, pear and plum along with cranberries, elderberries and juniper berries, represent the basis for home-made ‘Selberbrennter’, not forgetting of course the sought-after variety of spirits distilled from the fruits of the rowan tree, sloes, gentian and masterwort.
The drink has developed into the famed ‘Edelbrand’, an exquisite distillate in which the natural scent and aroma of sun-ripened fruit is expertly brought alive. Schnapps is deeply rooted in Tyrolean tradition, with successful business deals being concluded with a little schnapps and spirits rounding off the perfect meal. The Marketenderinnen (sutlers) who accompany marching bands, wear a small keg of schnapps around their necks to serve dignitaries some honorary ‘Ehrenstamperl’ (‘Stamperl’ being the traditional glass for schnapps) at official events.
Schnapps is also a popular remedy for common ailments. During the summer, there is nothing better to prevent or cure an upset tummy, while in winter schnapps is used to combat the common cold. Therefore it is not really surprising that quite a few distillers have decideed to focus on the ‘scientific’ aspect of the production of potent spirits. Sharing a commitment to lifelong learning and thanks to special initiatives of the Tyrolean Chamber of Agriculture, these proud distillers have successfully developed the prestigious Tyrolean ‘Edelbrand’ varieties. This joint effort has resulted in internationally recognized products, and distillers today take much pride in their fragrant, aromatic spirits and delectable liqueurs.
The quality of these products is reflected at the annual Tyrolean Spirits Award, the largest of its kind inAustria. At the end of each year, experts from Austria, Germany and Switzerland crown the best schnapps varieties of the Tyrol in a blind taste test where rural distillers from Innsbruck and the surrounding holiday villages regularly gain numerous accolades for their precious products. Many a time, the venerable Wilten Monastery in Innsbruck has been among the award-winning distillers. Here, monks of the Premonstratensian Order operate a small shop featuring culinary delicacies as well as schnapps cultivated from the monastery’s fruit orchard and produced in its own distillery.
Due to the abundance of excellent schnapps and liqueurs the inexperienced buyer faces a long and pleasant search for the favourite drop. To assist, look out for the ‘Tiroler Schnapsflasche’, the officially recognised bottle for award-winning Tyrolean spirits which comes in a handsome cardboard box. The Tyrolean Chamber of Agriculture also provides a brochure detailing award-winning distillers in theTyrol. Even so, enthusiasts of fine distillates won’t be spared the tasty ordeal of sampling quite a few of those delicious Tyrolean spirits!
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