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Fuersteneck Kirschwasser.jpg

Kirsch, originally called Kirschwasser, is a clear, colorless fruit brandy traditionally made from double distillation of morello cherries, a dark-colored cultivar of the sour cherry, however, it is now also made from other kinds of cherries. The cherries are fermented complete (that is, including their stones) and unlike cherry liqueurs and so-called “cherry brandies,” Kirschwasser is not sweet. The best Kirschwassers have a refined taste with subtle flavors of cherry and a slight bitter-almond taste that derives from the stones.

Because morellos were originally grown in the Black Forest region of southern Germany, Kirschwasser is believed to have originated there. Kirschwasser is colorless because it is either not aged in wood or is aged in barrels made of ash. It may have been aged in paraffin-lined wood barrels or in earthenware vessels.


Kirsch is usually drunk neat, traditionally served cold in a very small glass and is taken as an apéritif. However, people in the German-speaking region where it originated, usually serve it after dinner, as a digestif. Kirschwasser is used in some cocktails, such as the Lady Finger and the Florida Cocktail. High-quality Kirschwasser may be served at room temperature, warmed by the hands as with brandy.

In food

It is an essential ingredient of Swiss cheese fondue and of some cakes and can also be used in the filling of chocolates. A typical Kirsch chocolate consists of no more than one milliliter of Kirsch, surrounded by milk or (more usually) dark chocolate with a film of hard sugar between the two parts. Swiss chocolatiers Lindt & Sprüngli and Camille Bloch, among others, manufacture these Kirsch chocolates.

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