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.
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.