Eau De Vie Pear Brandy: A Personal Quest (video)

Eau De Vie, the French word meaning “water of life”, is a spirited drink produced from the distillates of fermented and mashed fruit. Steve McCarthy began a personal quest to produce a world-class pear Eau De Vie, and turn it into a profitable business.

Eau De Vie Fresh Oregon Pears

Summer has to be one of my favorite times of the year. It’s not that the Winter and Spring rains have finally stopped (I love the rain and all it brings!). It’s the fruit! The berries, cherries, peaches, pears, apples, figs, apricots, nectarines, and, well, you get the picture. I feel so fortunate to live in an area of great abundance when it comes to many of these fruits. And Steve McCarthy, of Clear Creek Distillery, appears to be like minded. His family has been growing pears off and on for over 100 years, and about 23 years ago he began his quest to turn those pears, and eventually other fruit, into Eau de Vie. It may have taken him 2 decades to accomplish, but almost single-handedly, he has created the market for Eau de Vie in North America!

Eau De Vie enjoys a rich history in Europe. Cognac and brandy are types of Eau de Vie; in effect, any fruit whose essence is distilled, qualifies as one. Quite often consumed as a digestif (the opposite of an aperitif), taken (in small amounts) after a meal to (perhaps) aid in digestion. The key to a great Eau De Vie is its aroma; the smell almost lies to you with the pure sweet essence of fruit, delivering upon its sweet promise instead, the taste of a bone dry alcohol.

As fascinating as it was to observe the process of hand-crafting Eau De Vie, and learning about other brandies and liqueurs, I’m more drawn to the personal story of Steve McCarthy. Against the odds, striving year after year to perfect his products, he persevered, and developed it into a successful business endeavor. He is a true renaissance man: an artisan, businessman, engineer, manufacturer, marketer, retailer, and optimist—rolled into one.

Recipes from this show: Clear Creek Brandied Pear Salad; Pear and Currant Chutney


  1. Lee Hollimon says

    Clear Creek framboise, hands down, is the best eau de vie I’ve ever had and would highly recommend it to one and all.

  2. says

    I personally feel this is a value-add opportunity where I live. There are so many apples folks shovel them into garbage bins. Apple eau-de-vie would be a lovely answer.

    • says

      Is there a local distillery? I would think there could be great possibilities for it as an eau de vie (de pomme!). So many great ways to use apples, hate to think they just become food waste.

  3. JeanAnnVK says

    Hi Rebecca!
    I have about a zillion pears…think we can make some Pear Brandy with it? Would be fun to try…:)

  4. says

    @JeanAnnVK… thanks for the tip. I planted Walla Walla onions last year and they did great! Can’t wait to try garlic. So many great things to make with it.

    @Tricia I’d love to know what you thought of the Eau De Vie. I was quite surprised by the taste.
    Glad to hear you finally got to go berry picking! That activity is one of the highlights of my summer. The blackberry bushes in my backyard is just now ripening. Yum!

  5. says

    Wow Rebecca,

    Eau de Vie sounds like a must try – I love that it’s not sweet. Will look for it the next time I’m purchasing some distilled spirits.

    Finally went berry picking this weekend, and was very successful. I’m at capacity in the freezer now with marionsberries, boysenberries (I had no idea how big these were), rasperries & blueberries!

    Talk soon, Tricia

  6. says

    Hi Rebecca! By all means, DO plant garlic this fall…it is a great time to do it. Just make sure the bed is well draining so don’t drown…

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