Which Traditional European Spirits Should You Explore?


If you’re looking to experience the rich flavors and cultural traditions of Europe, exploring the world of traditional European spirits is a must. From Swiss absinthe to Dutch genever and Austrian schnapps, there is a wide variety of iconic drinks to sample.

While France is known for its vineyards and Portugal for its port wine, Europe’s alcohol map extends far beyond these well-known choices. Whether you want to try rum in Gran Canaria, cycle along the absinthe trail in Switzerland, walk the Fairy Trails of Azerbaijan, savor gin in the Netherlands, indulge in brandy in France, or discover the history of Hungarian herbal liqueur, Europe offers countless opportunities to tantalize your taste buds.

If you want to step into the world of Mead, then this article about the world’s oldest alcoholic drink might intrigue you.

Now let’s raise a glass and embark on a spirited journey through the traditions and flavors of traditional European spirits.

Traditional European Spirits: A Guide to Try in Europe

Europe is not only known for its famous wines but also for its traditional spirits that have been enjoyed for centuries. From the Caribbean-inspired rum in the Canary Islands to the iconic absinthe in Switzerland, each country has its own unique spirit that reflects its culture and tradition.

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through Europe to explore and taste the traditional spirits that are worth trying during your visit.

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Edinburgh, Scotland: Whisky Haven

Whisky Wisdom Awaits: Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is a whisky lover’s paradise. From the historic Royal Mile to hidden whisky bars, the city offers a rich exploration of Scotland’s liquid heritage.

Heritage & Tastings: Discover whisky’s history at the Scotch Whisky Experience or visit Glenkinchie Distillery nearby. Edinburgh’s whisky legacy is ever-present, providing a backdrop for immersive whisky experiences.

Raising a Glass: In cozy pubs, toast to tradition with a dram of your favorite Scotch, whether smoky Islay or sweet Speyside. Edinburgh invites you to savor the spirit and stories in every sip.

Edinburgh, where whisky and history unite, promises a spirited journey through Scotland’s beloved whisky culture. Slàinte mhath!

Rum in the Canary Islands, Spain

Overview of rum

Rum is often associated with the Caribbean, but the Canary Islands in Spain also have a rich tradition of rum production. Made from sugarcane, rum is known for its sweet and complex flavors. It can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in cocktails. In the Canary Islands, rum production has been a part of the region’s history since the 19th century.

Destilerías Arehucas in Gran Canaria

One of the most famous rum producers in the Canary Islands is Destilerías Arehucas in Gran Canaria. Established in 1884, this distillery has been producing high-quality rum for over a century. They grow their own sugarcane, ensuring the use of the finest ingredients.

Tour and tasting experience

Visiting Destilerías Arehucas offers a unique opportunity to learn about the rum production process. The distillery offers guided tours where you can see the production facilities and learn about the different stages of rum production. The tour also includes a tasting experience where you can sample a variety of rums produced by Destilerías Arehucas.

Historical significance of the distillery

Destilerías Arehucas has a rich history that is reflected in its distillery and products. The distillery has preserved its heritage by keeping the original oak barrels where the rum is aged. These barrels bear the autographs of famous actors, singers, and sports stars. The addition of their autographs adds a touch of glamour and history to the distillery.

Cost and duration of the tour

The tour at Destilerías Arehucas is both educational and enjoyable. It typically lasts around 50 minutes and costs €7 per person. The price includes the guided tour and the rum-tasting experience. This is a great opportunity to learn about the history and production process of rum in the Canary Islands while enjoying some delicious rum samples.

Absinthe in Switzerland

Absinthe trail drink

History and characteristics of absinthe

Absinthe is a strong green spirit that has a rich history in Switzerland. It is known for its distinctive flavor, which comes from the use of wormwood, an herb with a bitter taste. Absinthe is traditionally consumed by diluting it with water and adding sugar, creating a unique and refreshing drink.

Absinthe trail in Switzerland

Switzerland is the birthplace of absinthe, making it the perfect destination to explore the world of this iconic spirit. The country offers an absinthe trail that takes you through picturesque towns and villages, where you can learn about the history and production of absinthe.

Key locations and attractions along the trail

One of the key locations along the absinthe trail is the town of Couvet, where absinthe was first distilled. Here, you can visit the Artemisia-Bugnon distillery, which is known for its high-quality absinthe. The distillery offers guided tours where you can learn about the art of absinthe production and taste different varieties of absinthe.

Tasting experiences and flavors of absinthe

Absinthe tasting experiences are a must-do when exploring the Absinthe trail in Switzerland. The flavors of absinthe can vary depending on the distillery and the ingredients used. Some absinthes have a strong anise flavor, while others have a more herbal profile. Tasting absinthe is a unique experience that allows you to appreciate the complex flavors and aromas of this iconic spirit.

Mode of transportation along the trail

To fully enjoy the absinthe trail, it is recommended to travel by train or bicycle. The train provides a convenient and scenic way to explore the different towns and distilleries along the trail. If you prefer a more active approach, cycling allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning Swiss countryside while making stops at the various absinthe distilleries.

Genever in the Netherlands

If The Netherlands was a cocktail taken with a Nikon D850 highest quality possible realistic

Introduction to genever

Genever, also known as Dutch gin, is a traditional spirit that originated in the Netherlands. It is made from a blend of malted grains, including barley, wheat, and rye, and flavored with botanicals such as juniper berries. Genever has a distinct malty and juniper flavor profile, which sets it apart from other types of gin.

Distilleries producing genever in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is known for its genever production, with various distilleries throughout the country. One of the oldest genever tasting houses in Amsterdam is De Drie Fleschjes. This historic establishment has been serving genever since the 17th century and offers a wide selection of genevers for tasting.

De Drie Fleschjes in Amsterdam

De Drie Fleschjes is a must-visit destination for genever enthusiasts in Amsterdam. The tasting house has an extensive collection of genevers, ranging from traditional recipes to modern variations.

The knowledgeable staff can guide you through the different flavors and styles of genever, ensuring a unique and enjoyable tasting experience.

Rutte Distillery in Dordrecht

Another notable distillery in the Netherlands is Rutte, located in the city of Dordrecht. Rutte has been producing genever and other spirits since 1872.

A visit to this distillery offers an opportunity to learn about the history and craftsmanship behind their products. The guided tour includes a tasting session where you can sample their genever and other spirits.

Tasting genever and its different variations

Tasting genever is a great way to explore the diverse flavors and variations that this spirit has to offer. Traditional genever has a smooth, malty flavor with subtle hints of juniper.

However, there are also aged genevers that have a more pronounced flavor and are often enjoyed neat or on the rocks. The tasting experience allows you to compare different genevers and discover your preferred style.

Cultural significance of genever in the Netherlands

Genever holds a significant place in Dutch culture and history. It has been enjoyed by the Dutch for centuries and is considered a national spirit. Genever is often associated with celebrations and special occasions, and it has become an integral part of Dutch traditions and customs.

Continue reading the rest of the article for more information on Cognac in France, Unicum in Hungary, Schnapps in Austria, Aquavit in Scandinavia, Vodka in Poland, and Grappa in Italy.

Cognac in France

Elegance in a Glass: Cognac, the renowned French brandy, epitomizes sophistication and refinement. Crafted in the Cognac region, it’s a symbol of a centuries-old tradition, offering a rich and aromatic experience.

Postcard Cognac DayAs amber liquid swirls in a snifter, the complex notes of dried fruits and oak mingle, inviting connoisseurs to savor its warmth.

Whether sipped slowly by the fireplace or used in a classic cocktail, Cognac remains a timeless emblem of French savoir-faire and artistry.


Unicum in Hungary

Bitter Elixir of Budapest: Unicum, Hungary’s iconic herbal liqueur, is a bold and unique concoction. Its secret recipe passed down through generations, yields a distinctive bitter taste cherished by Hungarians and adventurous drinkers worldwide.

With a history dating back to the 18th century, Unicum tells a story of resilience and tradition, making it a true symbol of Hungarian pride and a conversation starter in bars around the world.

Schnapps in Austria

Alpine Delight in a Bottle: Austrian Schnapps, a beloved fruit brandy, captures the essence of the Alpine landscape. From orchard to glass, this clear spirit reflects the pure flavors of sun-ripened fruits, delivering a taste of Austrian terroir.

Whether sipped as an après-ski treat or enjoyed on a warm summer day in the Alps, Austrian Schnapps encapsulates the beauty and bounty of this picturesque European country.

Aquavit in Scandinavia

Nordic Spirit Infused with Tradition: Aquavit, a quintessential Scandinavian spirit, is a celebration of herbs and spices. This seasoned schnapps is steeped in Nordic culture and cherished for its intricate flavors, often enjoyed during festive occasions.

Whether raised in a toast to honor family traditions or sipped during the long, dark winters, Aquavit embodies the essence of Scandinavian resilience and camaraderie.

Vodka in Poland

Polish Purity, Global Appeal: Polish Vodka, revered for its crystal-clear purity, has gained a worldwide following. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, it embodies the spirit of Poland and offers a versatile canvas for mixologists and vodka enthusiasts.

From the bustling bars of Warsaw to international cocktail competitions, Polish Vodka stands as a testament to Polish craftsmanship and a bridge between cultures, transcending borders and traditions.

Grappa in Italy

a glass of brandy, italy village, hills, product photography

Soul of the Vineyard: Grappa, Italy’s famed grape-based brandy, encapsulates the essence of winemaking. Distilled from grape pomace, it carries the character of Italian vineyards, with each sip revealing a harmonious blend of tradition and craftsmanship.

Whether enjoyed as a digestive after a hearty Italian meal or as a tribute to the age-old art of viticulture, Grappa resonates with the heart and soul of Italy’s wine culture, leaving an indelible mark on those who partake.

In the realm of spirits, these iconic beverages stand as testaments to the artistry, heritage, and craftsmanship of their respective regions, offering a taste of tradition and a passport to cultural exploration.

Until we meet again in the next article… happy travels. 🙂


Hi, I’m Rikki

I’m a passionate author and blogger, sharing my thoughts and experiences on life and travel.

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