, “water of life”) is an archaic name for a concentrated aqueous solution
. The term originated in the Middle Ages
and was originally used as a generic name for all types of distillates. It eventually came to refer specifically to distillates of alcoholic beverages
Aqua vitae was typically prepared by distilling wine; it was sometimes called “spirits of wine” in English texts. “Spirits of wine” was a name for brandy that had been repeatedly distilled.
A local translation of aqua vitae was often applied to an important local distilled spirit. Thus, we have whisky in Scotland (from Gaelic, uisge-beatha) , whiskey in Ireland (from Irish, uisce beatha) , eau de vie in France, and akvavit in Scandinavia.
When the term is used in England, it usually refers to French brandy.
Aqua vitae was also known in Slavic lands; it appears in Ukrainian оковита (okovita), Belarusian акавіта (akavita), and яковита (yakovita) is southern Russian dialects.