Alcohol bases for flavoured schnapps and liqueurs are numerous. You can use...
Or any combination you can imagine will suit your taste.
Neutral Danish schnapps, vodka or diluted pure grain alcohol work best in most cases, and that's why most recipes call for that.
Danish schnapps (aquavit) - Danish vodka
Personally I prefer to use Danish schnapps or vodka when I make flavoured schnapps and liqueurs.
I normally use a clear schnapps called Brøndums Snaps Klar. It's distilled from fermented grains and bottled without aging.
It's a neutral - or almost neutral - schnapps. Very soft and round with a discreet sweetness that comes from the use of acacia honey in the finishing process.
As base it's perfect for flavoured schnapps and liqueurs made from fruits, berries and blossoms.
Very often I also use a Danish neutral vodka called Danzka Vodka. That's when I make flavoured schnapps and liqueurs based on herbs, spices, roots, and leaves.
Danzka Vodka is a clear vodka, distilled from fermented whole wheat. It has a very pure and smooth taste due to several distillations.
Both Danzka Vodka and Brøndums Snaps Klar are produced by De Danske Spritfabrikker (V&S Distillers) ...
...the oldest distillers in Denmark with more than 150 years' experience in the fine art of distilling.
Danzka Vodka comes in a characteristic aluminium bottle, and is exported to many countries around the world.
As base I also sometimes use different kinds of Danish aquavits - a specific type of schnapps that is flavoured with dill and/or caraway seeds. That's when I want to obtain a certain combination of taste and flavours.
Pure grain alcohol
Pure grain alcohol - also known as grain neutral spirit - is distilled from fermented grains or molasses.
It's a very high proof spirit. Usually 90-95% (180-190 proof).
You can use pure grain alcohol instead of neutral schnapps or vodka. But you need to dilute it with distilled water before use. And use a quality alcohol meter to measure the exact alcohol content.
You can buy pure grain alcohol at local or online pharmacy shops or brewers supply stores.
But because pure grain alcohol is such a high proof spirit, it's not legally available in some countries.
Rum, brandy, whiskey, etc.
These spirits are also fine bases. Especially for liqueur making.
Each has its own distinct taste and flavours that blends very well with the flavours from various fruits, berries, spices and herbs.
Always choose good quality
Whatever spirit you decide to use as base, always choose good quality. That's very important.
No need to buy very expensive brands, but do avoid the cheap ones. They usually have unpleasant tastes that will adversely affect your schnapps or liqueur.
Please note that all brands of pure grain alcohol are equal.
Be aware of the alcohol percentage
When you make flavoured schnapps and liqueurs it's very important that you choose spirits with the right alcohol percentage.
Because it's the alcohol percentage that determines not only the amounts but also the types of plant constituents you extract.
The volatile, aromatic constituents are best extracted in spirits with an alcohol content between 35% and 40% (70-80 proof), though in some cases you can use spirits with lower percentages.
If you use spirits with greater alcohol content than 40% you will still extract the volatile, aromatic constituents - but at the same time you might also extract a number of bad-tasting bitter constituents. It depends on the plant material you use.
Most frequently used is 37,5%-40% - (75-80 proof).
If you are new to schnapps and liqueur making you should not use spirits with more or less alcohol content than recommended in the recipes.
However, if you are more experienced you might want to experiment with different alcohol levels - it's only part of the excitement.