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French term (engl. heart or heart piece) for the product from the middle run of a distillation used for further processing into brandy; see there.

However, Aristotle (384-322 BC) already endeavoured unsuccessfully to "free the spirit of wine from wine". Among other things, he described how seawater can be made drinkable through distillation and that wines and other liquids can be subjected to the same process. However, it is not known when this was actually achieved for the first time. The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder (23-79) surmised that there must be something combustible in wine. When the Moors (Arabs) conquered Spain in the 8th century, they brought the art of distillation with them. This was mainly used in pharmacy and for the production of scented waters.

The production of high-proof spirits was probably invented in what is now Turkey around 1000 AD. Vessels made of various materials such as glass or ceramics(alambic) were used for this purpose. Around the same time, Aztecs in ancient Mexico produced intoxicating drinks similar to pulque from agave. Whether distillation was used is not certain. Tartars in the Gobi Desert produced "kumyss" or "airag" from mare's milk and distilled it into "karakumyss" (milk brandy).

Aqua vitae

A document from 1150 describes the art of making "aqua ardens" (burning water) from wine. Around this time, the name "aqua vitae" (water of life) was in common use. At the beginning of the 13th century, repeated distillation (ten times or more) had already made it possible to produce up to 90% alcohol. The scholar Albertus Magnus (1193-1280) further developed the distillation apparatus.

Around 1285, the Spanish doctor and scholar Arnaldus de Villanova (1240-1311) experimented with the production of eau-de-vie according to Arabic recipes at the Knights Templar estate near Perpignan in Roussillon and produced a forerunner of today's Vin doux...

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