Schnapps vs. Vodka: What’s the Difference?

Unless you grew up in a Bavarian country, you might not be familiar with schnapps. The first time you see this clear alcoholic drink, you might be wondering, would this taste similar to vodka? Is there any real difference between schnapps and vodka?

First and foremost, let’s clarify that what we refer to as schnapps in this context is the original European version. It’s not to be confused with the American counterpart, which often consists of flavorings plus an alcohol base.

Both schnapps and vodka have a transparent look, and you might not be able to distinguish them from just by looking at them. However, when you pick up the glass and pour one into your mouth, you will immediately know which one is which.

Vodka has a reasonably clear flavor and is commonly described as tasteless. On the other hand, schnapps typically includes a hint of fruity aromas. Without a doubt, the taste of the schnapps you drink will be determined by the kind of fruit used in its creation.

Aside from this, what other differences do these two types of liquor have? Find out more about them in this article.

Schnapps vs. Vodka: Quick Comparison Table

Here’s a quick comparison table between schnapps and vodka:




Base Ingredient

Fruits (e.g., apples, peaches) or herbs

Grains (e.g., wheat, rye, corn) or potatoes


Often fruit-flavored, with a sweet taste

Typically neutral, although flavored versions are available

Alcohol Content

Typically lower, around 15-20% ABV

Typically higher, around 40-50% ABV


Europe, especially Germany and Austria

Russia, Poland, and other Eastern European countries


Distilled once or a few times

Distilled multiple times for purity

Use in Cocktails

Commonly used in sweet cocktails, such as Schnapps-based liqueurs

Versatile and used in a wide range of cocktails

Serving Temperature

Often served chilled

Can be served chilled or at room temperature

Popular Brands

DeKuyper, Hiram Walker, Bols

Smirnoff, Absolut, Grey Goose




Schnapps vs. Vodka – Understanding the Differences

Schnapps vs. Vodka: What’s the Difference

What Are They Made From

Now, let’s look at the main difference between the two: what they are made of. Schnapps is simply put a distilled fruit juice; thus, it can be created from just about any fruit. Even so, apple, cinnamon, cherry, and apricot are among the most popular flavors.

Vodka is entirely different from schnapps because it’s made from grains. Potato has been traditionally known as the raw material for vodka. Still, a distiller can use any type of grain, such as corn, rye, or even wheat.

Also, unlike schnapps, vodka usually goes through multiple distillation stages. The multiple distillation stages are responsible for the clear taste of vodka. In addition, no infusion technique is used in the production of vodka.

Alcohol Percentage

Traditionally, schnapps contains more than 40% alcohol. As a result, it’s more similar to other types of fruit brandies.

On the other hand, newer schnapps brands are usually lower in alcohol content. The alcohol percentage of these schnapps brands can vary from 15% to 25%, depending on the manufacturer.

Interestingly, schnapps producers may make stronger versions available for several flavors. You can, for example, find peppermint schnapps with up to 50% alcohol content.

When it comes to alcohol content, vodka is slightly greater than schnapps. The minimum alcohol percentage for vodka in the United States is 40%, but the EU has a lower limit of 37.5 percent.

There are, however, vodka brands with up to 50% or even higher alcohol content, similar to schnapps.

Schnapps vs. Vodka: Used For

Both schnapps and vodka drinkers enjoy their preferred alcoholic beverage straight, whether as a shot or a sipper. Both could also be enjoyed with ice for a more refreshing and smoother drinking experience.

Vodka, however, is a much more versatile drink when used in cocktails. Because of its neutral flavor profile, it may be mixed into a wide variety of beverages.

The same cannot be said for schnapps. Because schnapps has fruity flavor characteristics, bartenders should use them in specific types of cocktails.

Apple schnapps, for example, works well in the apple martini. That said, when used incorrectly in a cocktail, schnapps can ruin the entire beverage’s flavor.

Schnapps vs. Vodka Taste: Does Schnapps Taste Like Vodka?

Schnapps is described as having a fruity or herby flavor, depending on the ingredient used in its manufacturing. The most common flavors you will find are peppermint, cinnamon, apple, and peaches.

On the other hand, most plain vodkas have no flavor at all. It’s very similar to water but your mouth will become a bit warm and astringent if you decide to chug it. However, similar to Schnapps, there are also vodkas infused with fruity flavors.

Peppermint Schnapps vs. Peppermint Vodka

Peppermint Schnapps and Peppermint Vodka are mainly in almost the same ways. However, there’s a big difference between the two; Peppermint Schnapps tend to be less sweet and have a more intense minty flavor than peppermint vodka.

Can I Use Schnapps Instead of Vodka?

One of the reasons Vodka is used in many cocktails is it has little to no flavor. However, that isn’t the case with Schnapps since it does not go through as many distillation cycles as Vodka, giving it stronger flavors. This is why it’s not recommended as an alternative to Vodka unless you are going for a more intense fruity flavor.

Final Verdict

Schnapps and vodka are both excellent liquors that may be enjoyed on their own or in cocktails. Whichever is your favorite, make sure to drink responsibly, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of drinks!

Leave a Comment