Fruit Focus: Cherries

  • Posted On: June 26, 2015
  • Author: Collin McConville
  • Categories: Drinking, Support Local, Cocktail, Products

This is the second in our series of posts regarding the different fruits that we grow here at DeFisher Fruit Farm and the different products we can make with them at Apple Country Spirits.  The first entry in this series can be found here: http://applecountryspirits.com/blog/fruit-focus-apples/


Today's focus is on Cherries.  Cherries are our second biggest crop behind apples.  DeFisher Fruit Farm grows close to 100 acres of cherries all together, with a majority being tart cherries.  The oldest block of tree we have is over 35 years old and we have been growing cherries for over 50 years all together. 

We grow several distinct types of cherries and break down further into varieties.  Generally speaking there are Sweet Cherries and Tart Cherries.  Tart cherries make great pies because of their natural spiciness and flavor, and sweets are more for eating.  In general we like to use tarts for alcohol production because there is much more depth of character to them.  Those spicy cinnamon notes come through fermentation and make the that much more complex.  With that said, we still use some sweets in alcohol production because as a general rule; more sugar means more alcohol.  There is a third type of cherry that we grow a small amount of that falls betwen sweets and tarts.  This is the Hungarian Cherry.  It has more sugar than the tart and more spice than the sweet.


Up to this point we have only really experimented with cherries in products.  This summer we plan on releasing cherry products for the first time.  In fact, we plan on releasing our Tart Cherry Cordial during our Cherry Harvest Festival which is planned for Late July.  Check back on our website from time to time to be kept up to date on that. 

Our Tart Cherry Cordial is made in a rather labor intensive and very traditional way.  We start by taking whole tart cherries that we lacerate to expose the juice inside to the air.  We add some cane sugar (since tart cherries have so little sugar content) and let them ferment using wild yeast found naturally on the cherries.  We let this process go on for about 2 weeks, at which point we ended the fermentation early by adding high proof alcohol (in this case, or unproofed vodka -- around 190 proof).  We then let that mix sit, stirring every day for about 6 months.  Finally we drain the liquid out, filter and bottle.  This past year we did a rather small batch and expect it to sell out very quickly.

The other product we have using cherries is our Cherry Brandy.  We use a mix of almost exclusively tart cherries with just a small percentage of sweet cherries to bring up the sugar level.  We ferment them whole, much like the cordial, but actually ferment them to dry using a yeast of our choosing instead of the wild yeast.  This allows us to control the conditions much better and to reach driness in a much quicker manner.  The final product is then distilled twice in our pot still and barrels aged in used red wine barrels.  We aged it for 6 to 12 months and bottled it at 80 proof.  There is no residual sugar, as it is a real fruit brandy, not a fruit flavored brandy (which is grape brandy that has had cherry juice added to it).

Both of these things can be used in cocktails.  Below are a few suggestions:



Choclate Cherry Tart

1.5 oz Apple Country Spirits Cherry Brandy

1 oz Clear Creme de Cacao

.5 oz Triple Sec


Secret Place

1 oz Dark Rum

1 oz Apple Country Spirits Cherry Brandy

.5 oz Dark Creme de Cacao

4 oz Iced Coffee

Combine in a glass with crushed ice


Apple Jack and Cherry Coke

2 oz 2 Year old Apple Jack

1 oz Apple Country Spirits Tart Cherry Cordial

Combine in a glass with ice and serve.

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