Swiss Brenzerkirsch is a cherry brandy, or “Kirsch“, typical of central and northwestern Switzerland. It is distilled from the small-medium sized sweet black cherries of a heritage variety known as Brenzerkirsch (Brenzer cherry), that grows on tall trees throughout the cantons of Basel-City, Basel-Country, Solothurn, Aargau, Lucerne, Schwyz and Zug. This variety is not eaten fresh, and is cultivated solely for the distillation of the Kirsch, to which it gives its name. The spectrum of aromas characteristic of a high quality Kirsh, is in fact linked directly to the use of heritage variety cherries.
The cherry harvest usually takes place in July when they are fully ripe. In preparing traditional kirsch it is essential that the whole fruit are pressed (without crushing the stones) on the same day of picking, to obtain the must. Following a fermentation period of at least two weeks, the distillation is carried out. The distillate obtained has an alcohol content of 70-80%, and is aged for at least one year in non-reactive containers (usually glass, steel or terracotta). Before bottling, the alcohol content of the final product is lowered to between 40-43 %, depending on the producer, by adding spring water or distilled de-ionized water.
Traditional Swiss Brenzerkirsch has aromas of marzipan, almond, chocolate and cinnamon. It can be enjoyed neat as a digestive, is used in fondue and in cooking and baking, especially in traditional desserts like Zug cherry cake or the famous Basel Läckerli.
The production of traditional Brenzerkirsch is seriously threatened today. Since 1990, the national kirsch has become vulnerable: a reduced duty on imported spirits and cherries, coupled with changes to the “fruit-based alcoholic beverages” category in order to have standard rules across the European Union, has caused a major decrease in the price paid for the fruit for distillation, making the production of Kirsch using cherries from the heritage varieties extremely unprofitable.
The Presidium Brenzerkirsch protects and promotes heritage cherry varieties that grow on tall trees, the ancient land- scape of the standard orchards and thus the very fundamentals of Brenzer Kirsch’s quality. Currently, the Presidium has three distillers and around thirty small fruit growers, who work in accordance with the Hochstamm Swiss guidelines. Through exchange of knowledge and experience between distillers and farmers, the Presidium ensures future quality, identity and image of Swiss cherry distillates.
Basel-City, Basel-Country, Solothurn, Aargau, Lucerne, Schwyz and Zug Cantons
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