Schnapps vs Liqueur: Unraveling the Differences (2023)

Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Lydia Martin

As a seasoned bartender, I decided to do a little taste exploration with schnapps and liqueur, thinking they’re somewhat interchangeable. However, although both seem similar initially, each alcoholic beverage has its own vibe.

So, after some serious sipping and pondering, here’s the lowdown on the schnapps vs liqueur showdown.

Schnapps & Liqueur In-Depth Comparison


Schnapps and liqueur share similarities as sweet, flavorful alcoholic beverages.

However, liqueurs are versatile and complex with various base spirits and flavors (though not all flavored liquors are liqueurs, like flavored vodka). It’s best used for making cocktails and desserts.

“Schnapps or liqueur, the spirit of choice adds magic to mixology.” – Liquor Laboratory

Meanwhile, schnapps, like peach schnapps and American schnapps, exude fruity notes. This strong alcoholic beverage exudes a pronounced taste and is best enjoyed in shots or mixed drinks.

Despite the difference, these distilled spirits provide sweetness. But it boasts a specific, bold fruitiness that liqueurs may not replicate.

Liqueur & Schnapps Comparison Table

Feature Schnapps Liqueur
Average Price $20 (more or less) $20 (tends to be higher)
Base Spirit Unaged fruit brandies or mixing neutral grain spirit Distilled spirit
Alcohol Content Higher alcohol content (30-40% or more) Typicall lower alcohol content (15-30%)
Sweetness Often sweet Dry to very sweet
Flavors Focused on fruit or herb flavors Diverse, with endless possibilities
Usage Sipping or shooting In cocktails and desserts
Distillation Often distilled once Some undergoes secondary distillation
Popular Brands Peach Schnapps, Peppermint Schnapps, German Schnapps Grand Marnier, Baileys, Amaretto, Kahlua
Food Pairings Less common in cooking Widely used in culinary applications

Main Differences

Origin & History

Bottles of Peach Schnapps

Liqueur’s rich history dates back centuries. It was originally intended for medicinal purposes but evolved into a delightful distilled alcohol for sipping and mixing.

Conversely, schnapps hails from Germany, where it has been enjoyed for generations. German schnapps were created with bold, fruity-forward flavors and are often associated with shots.

Color & Mouthfeel

Liqueurs come from deep browns to vibrant reds and greens, making this distilled alcohol appealing in cocktails like a peach liqueur.

Besides, they provide a silky, smooth mouthfeel, enhancing the overall drinking experience – although they have lower alcohol content.

Meanwhile, schnapps [1] are typically clear liquors with a lighter, crisper mouthfeel, often due to their higher alcohol by volume (ABV). Peach schnapps is like a clear peach liqueur.

Base Ingredient

Liqueurs use various base spirits, from whiskey to rum to vodka, lending them diverse character profiles.

In contrast, American schnapps, like peach schnapps, mostly rely on fruit brandy (mixing neutral grain spirit as their base). This results in a fruity profile due to added sugar and fruit flavors.

Production Process

Homemade Orange Liqueur

Liqueurs often undergo multiple rounds of distillation and flavor infusion, but despite the complexity, it has a lower alcohol content.

Conversely, schnapps are made from fermenting fruits, spices, herbs, and other flavors. It’s a distilled spirit but undergoes a simpler distillation process, allowing the natural fruits or herb flavors to shine.

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How To Drink It 

Liqueurs are more versatile, perfect for crafting cocktails, from classics like the Margarita to signature creations. But they’re also splendid for sipping neat or over ice.

“Get the best of liquor, but don’t let liquor get the best of you.” – Evan Esar, American Humorist

In comparison, Peach schnapps are commonly enjoyed as shots or in simple mixed drinks, where their fruitiness shines. It pairs well with lime juice and other drinks.


Is schnapps considered a liqueur? 

Some schnapps varieties do not classify as liqueurs [2], but expressions with added sugar and fruit juices, like peach schnapps, are liqueurs (like peach liqueur). But how long will peach schnapps last?

What makes liqueurs schnapps? 

Liqueurs are classified as schnapps if they’re distilled fruit brandies, herbal liquors, or infusions. It can also be classified as one if its flavored form of liquor is made by adding fresh fruit juices, syrups, or other flavors to neutral grain spirits.

What kind of liquor is schnapp? 

Schnapps is a strong alcoholic beverage (schnaps label) that’s typically clear and incorporates fruit juice and added sugar. It is made from various base ingredients, including fruit brandy or neutral spirit.

What’s the difference between butterscotch schnapps and liqueur? 

Butterscotch schnapps is an alcoholic beverage with a sweet, buttery flavor. It differs from liqueurs’ base spirit and is typically higher in spices and sweetness.

Can you substitute schnapps for liquer? 

You can replace liqueurs with schnapps. It is typically crafted from fruits or potatoes and is a specific beverage that is a suitable alternative to oozing with spices and fruits.


After comparing schnapps vs liqueur, I prefer liqueurs simply because alcoholic beverages, like liqueur, provide versatility and complexity. It’s like a flavored form of liquor (like flavored vodka).

But for those after bold fruit flavors, higher alcohol content and added sugar don’t matter; choose otherwise. But I suggest giving them both a try and discover your personal favorite.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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