Swiss Dettling Kirsch – the world’s finest cherry brandy for 150 years

June 26, 2017 — No comments

Dettling Kirsch of Switzerland

Ernst Beeler“Part of the secret lies in processing the fresh cherries from this region within 24 hours of harvesting, and the fact that no other fruit is mixed in,” says Ernst Beeler, Managing Director of Dettling Kirsch. I sense the passionate commitment behind these words.

The qualified forester spent eight years in the Swiss Armed Forces before entering the world of distillery. He hasn’t looked back since. The Kirsch expert is enthusiastic about his work: “There is practically no other fruit that imparts as much flavor as the cherry does, and the type of cherry determines the ultimate aroma of the brandy.”

“Exclusive” production – nothing but cherry fruit

I watch and try to keep out of the way. One of the 28 local suppliers delivers the freshly picked crop this morning from his mountain farm. The managing director personally lends a hand. He grabs a lifting device and helps the farmer unload his truck. Together they weigh, record and inspect the delivery and then immediately the cherries get emptied out of their blue barrels and started into the distilling process.

It’s the harvesting season but the date varies from year-to-year, depending on the weather. Generally it’s between the end of June until around first week in August, “but you just have to be ready, and the aroma of the finished product varies from one year to the next.” It takes about eight kilograms of cherries, pit and all, to produce one liter of Kirsch brandy.

The reserve Kirsch is stored in oak and mulberry wood barrels in a natural rock cave that extends beyond and to the back of to the distillery area. “In winter, on a weekend around the first of advent, we hold our famous Kirsch Christmas market here. The cave is lit by candle light and people come from far to participate.”

Family business

It all started in 1867, when Franz-Xaver Dettling established a trading company in Brunnen on Lake Lucerne,  specialising in Italian wines, and at the same time a distilling plant for the plentiful mountain cherries of the region. Since that time, the distillery has operated in the same location. It is the only distillery world-wide to exclusively use cherry fruit to produce all their Kirsch brandies. This practice accounts for the rich and intense aroma that Dettling Kirsch is valued for by connoisseurs the world over.

Products include Réserve, Supérieur Vieux, Bio-Kirsch, Cuvée, vintage Kirsch and many more, sure to meet the most discerning palates. As I sample the delicious cherry liquor I’m impressed by the wonderfully strong cherry flavor, not overly sweet. Velvety red in an elegant, tall bottle with the Dettling seal, it is a drink I could definitely take to.

Handcrafted in twenty steps

To this day, everything is crafted by hand at the distillery. Processing, bottling, applying the protective Dettling coating seal, labelling. “Every single bottle is taken into hand twenty times from start to finish. It is a labour of love throughout the entire process and we are proud of it,” says Ernst Beeler with a deep smile.

As he shows me the rock cave, what sounds like a speed train thunders across the roof of the cave. In response to my astonished upward look the distiller laughs and confirms that every train bound for the Gotthard tunnel speeds overtop of the distillery.

The family business Dettling Kirsch joined forces with German Underberg, the digestif bitter producer, a few years ago. “It’s a happy marriage and opened up more markets for us,” elaborates Ernst Beeler and adds, “we run completely independently here in Brunnen.” And so they should, judging by the countless awards the brand continues to take home every year.

If you’re in the area, visit the direct-sales store which is part of the distillery. You’ll have a good chance of meeting Ernst Beeler personally. You can also visit the Dettling Kirsch Visitors’ Center located on Kirschstrasse in Brunnen directly on Lake Lucerne. The hour long discovery tour provides interesting insights into the art and craft of Kirsch making and might just make a Kirsch lover out of you!

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Have you been to the village of Brunnen and visited the many attractions of this special village at the confluence of Lake Lucerne and Lake Uri? Share your experience and leave a comment below. Thank you.

About Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust

about-ss

Switzerland travel enthusiast. Cat lover, bicyclist and classical music fan. I prefer walking over running and enjoy a good Swiss card game of Jass among friends.  More about Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust »

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Additional Information

Photos: Silvia Schoch, Dettling Kirsch and Kirschstrasse Schweiz

http://www.dettling.ch/

World's best Kirsch
100 hundred years old?
Cherry tree in bloom
Cherry tree in winter
Award winning Kirsch

Dettling Wild Cherry is a specialty. It is made of the best wild cherry vintages. The fruit is characterised by a small berry with high sugar content and produces an outstanding distillation with a powerful bouquet.

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