Kirschwasser, produced in Germany and bottled at 40% ABV.

Kirschwasser (English pronunciation: /ˈkɪərʃvɑːsər/ keersh-vahs-ər, German: [ˈkɪɐ̯ʃvasɐ], German for “cherry water”) 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).[1] 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.

Kirschwasser is often simply called Kirsch in both German- and English-speaking countries.



Kirschwasser is usually drunk neat. It is traditionally served cold in a very small glass and is taken as an apéritif. However, people in the German-speaking region where Kirschwasser 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.

Origin and production

Illustration of the morello cherry.

Because morellos were originally grown in the Black Forest region of southern Germany, Kirschwasser is believed to have originated there.

Kirschwasser is colourless 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.[1]

Clear fruit brandies made from distilled, fermented fruit are very popular in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France. In France and in English-speaking countries, these beverages are known as eaux de vie. The European Union sets a minimum of 37.5% ABV (75 proof) for products of this kind; Kirschwasser typically has an alcohol content of 40%–50% ABV (80–100 proof). About 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of cherries go into the making of a 750 ml bottle of Kirschwasser.

In food

Urschwyzer Kirsch, produced in Switzerland and bottled at 40% ABV.

Kirsch is sometimes used in Swiss cheese fondue and in some cakes,[2] such as the Zuger Kirschtorte.

It is used in traditional German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Gateau, which is believed to have originated in the 16th century) and in other cakes—for example in Gugelhupf cake.

Kirsch 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. The hard sugar acts as an impermeable casing for the liquid content and also compensates for the lack of sweetness that is typical of Kirsch. Swiss chocolatiers Lindt & Sprüngli and Camille Bloch, among others, manufacture these Kirsch chocolates.

In popular culture

The band Steely Dan refers to Kirschwasser in the song "Babylon Sisters" from their 1980 album Gaucho: "We'll jog with show-folk on the sand, drink Kirschwasser from a shell".

See also


  1. ^ a b Lichine, Alexis. Alexis Lichine’s New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), 292.
  2. ^ Use of Kirsch in a traditional Swiss cake

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • kirsch — [ kirʃ ] n. m. • 1782; kirsch wasser 1775; all. Kirschwasser « eau (Wasser) de cerise (Kirsche) » ♦ Eau de vie de cerises aigres et de merises. Un verre de kirsch. Ananas au kirsch. Guignolet kirsch. Des kirschs. ● kirsch nom masculin… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Kirsch — bezeichnet: das Kirschwasser, einen Obstbrand, welcher ausschließlich aus der vergorenen Frucht der Kirsche hergestellt wird Kirsch (Longuich) Ortsteil der Gemeinde Longuich Kirsch in Rheinland Pfalz Kirsch (Familienname), einen deutschen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • kirsch — kirsch; kirsch·ner; kirsch·was·ser; …   English syllables

  • Kirsch — Assez courant en Alsace Lorraine (variante : Kirsche), le nom évoque la cerise ou le cerisier (toponyme ou surnom pour un producteur de cerises). Le cerisier est surtout retprésenté par le nom Kirschbaum. Le patronyme allemand Kirschnick devrait… …   Noms de famille

  • kirsch — |quirche| s. m. Ver quirche. • Plural: kirschen.   ‣ Etimologia: palavra alemã Kirsch, redução de Kirschwasser, água de cereja   • Confrontar: kitsch …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Kirsch — (Bergb.), so v.w. Grand 2) u. 3) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Kirsch [1] — Kirsch, Branntwein, s. Kirschwasser …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Kirsch [2] — Kirsch, der Mariatheresientaler …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Kirsch — Kirsch, der Mariatheresientaler (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • kirsch — Mot Monosíl·lab Nom masculí …   Diccionari Català-Català

  • kirsch — s.m.inv. ES ted. {{wmetafile0}} acquavite ottenuta dalla distillazione di ciliegie schiacciate e fermentate, tipica dell Europa centrale Sinonimi: kirschwasser. {{line}} {{/line}} DATA: 1887. ETIMO: accorc. di Kirschgeist, comp. di Kirsche… …   Dizionario italiano

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