Words by: Simon Difford
Cherry 'brandy' is traditionally the largest category of cherry liqueurs. A confusing term as most of these liqueurs are actually made by macerating cherries in neutral spirit (vodka) rather than brandy. Some might also contain brandy, but in most markets this is not a legal requirement. Cherry brandy liqueurs tend also to be flavoured with spices such as cinnamon and cloves.
Some cherry liqueurs also include crushed cherry kernels to add a distinctive almond note to the finished liqueur.
When distilling cherries, it is important to use copper rather than stainless steel stills as the copper not only helps produce a smoother distillate by removing sulphates but also helps remove the cyanide produced when cherries are distilled.
A traditional crème de cerise liqueur made from a maceration of cherries in beet neutral alcohol by Giffard & Cie, a fourth generation family-owned and run producer in France’s Loire Valley. Fresh cherry, cherry jam and almond.
This aperitif liqueur is made by macerating Griottes Montmorency cherries and darker and sweeter cherries in beet neutral alcohol. A touch of kirsch is then added. Dominant cherry stone nose, fresh cherry flesh and jammy notes with typical almond/marzipan character and prune.
Released autumn 2015, Soeurs Cerises is made from a several varieties of cherry with Morello predominating. The fruits are macerated in neutral alcohol and the resulting infusion blended with a distilled cherry eau-de-vie and some Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac. Pungent fresh Morello cherry and cherry pie filling with faint almond.
Roi René Rouge cherry liqueur is made to a recipe said to have first been developed in 1632 by the Benedictine nun, Reverend Mother Gautron of the Benedictine Abbey of Saumur. It is made with a blend of hand-picked wild guignes cherries from France and morello cherries from southern England. Cherry fruit and toasted almond.
Bold London Spirit is made by infusing cherries, cassia bark, anise, lavender, hibiscus, clove, raspberry leaves and other botanicals in neutral spirit. Spicy nose with clove, pine and cinnamon with berries, hibiscus and anise.
Made from Marasca cherry juice, we are told this liqueur was named 'Sangue Morlacco' (Morlacco's Blood) by WWI Italian poet and soldier, Gabriele d'Annunzio, in honour of the Morlaccos, fierce warriors of Dalmatia who fought for the Republic of Venice and defended their homeland against the Turks. Pungent, freshly squeezed cherry juice with faint white pepper and marzipan.
Made by steeping French cherries in beet neutral alcohol for six to eight weeks. Clarification is only by gravity allowing partials to fall to the bottom of the tank, thus avoiding harsh particle filtration which might also strip delicate flavours and rich colour pigments. Pungent cherry fruit, black forest gateaux and dark chocolate with aromatic almond/marzipan.
Made using concentrated cherry juice from Eastern Europe where cherry brandy has long been traditionally produced. The cherry kernels are crushed, giving Bols Cherry Brandy a faint amaretto flavour. The addition of brandy and extracts of selected herbs and spices contribute to its flavour. Pungent cherry stones, amaretto, marzipan and roast almond nose with fresh cherry aromas and an scent akin to Red Bull.
Launched in February 2012, Adnams Morello Cherry liqueur is made by steeping morello cherries in the 100% East Anglian malted barley spirit used to make the company's Longshore Vodka. Adnams Morello Cherry liqueur contains no artificial flavours or preservatives. Cherry pie nose with almond and marzipan aromas.
Corky’s is a range of what its producers call ‘Alcoholic Mix’ beverages. They are made by flavouring neutral spirit with essence and sweetening with sugar. The range was redesigned in 2011 when the ‘Fiery Ginger’ flavour was launched.