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The French term "eau-de-Vie" [plural: eaux-de-Vie] means "water of life" and was first coined by alchemist Arnaud de Ville-Neuve, the first European to invent, in the 1200s, an alembic still based on the Arab al-ambiq stills.
The names of many spirit categories are derivative of the "water of life", including whisky, akvavit, and vodka.
Today the term eau-de-vie refers to a dry-style of brandy, commonly made with fruit. However, sometimes the terms also applies to brandy distilled from wine as it did back in the days of de Ville-neuve.
Eaux-de-vie are usually not aged, meaning they have no colour. Although the term is a French one, and there are many French Eaux de Vie (often sold in clear Alsatian style bottles), many countries developed a national eau-de-vie, for example, schnapps from Germany, palinka from Hungary, coconut arrack from Sri Lanka, rakia from the Balkan states, slivovitz from central Europe.
Eaux-de-vie are made by harvesting ripe fruit, fermenting the juice and then double distilling the liquid. The alcohol is usually bottled around 40%vol.
If distilled from pomace (the stems and stalks of grapes) it is called Pomace brandy or Eau de Marc or simply Marc.