Aqua vitae

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Aqua vitae /ˌkwə ˈvt/ (Latin for "water of vitality") or aqua vita is an archaic name for a concentrated aqueous solution of ethanol. The term was in wide use during the Middle Ages, although its origin is undoubtedly much earlier, having been used by Saint Patrick and his fellow monks to refer to both the alcohol and the waters of baptism. This Latin term appears in a wide array of dialectical forms throughout all lands and people conquered by ancient Rome. Generally, the term is a generic name for all types of distillates, and eventually came to refer specifically to distillates of alcoholic beverages and liquors.[1]

Aqua vitae was typically prepared by distilling wine; it was sometimes called "spirits of wine" in English texts, a name for brandy that had been repeatedly distilled.

A local translation of aqua vitae was often applied to an important, locally produced distilled spirits. This gave rise to terms such as whisky (from the Gaelic uisce beatha), eau de vie in France, acquavite in Italy, and akvavit in Scandinavia, okowita in Poland, оковита (okovyta) in Ukraine, акавіта (akavita) in Belarus, and яковита' (yakovita) in southern Russian dialects.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Scully, Terence (1995) The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, pg. 159, ISBN 0-85115-611-8
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 edition of The Grocer's Encyclopedia.


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