In a region referred to as “cherry country” centered around the small town of Fougerolles in east-central France, a special type of French eau de vie has been made for hundreds of years. Kirsch de Fougerolles is a type of distilled spirit made by fermenting dark, unpitted cherries, producing a crystal-clear alcohol that is frequently enjoyed as a digestif.
Kirsch de Fougerolles has officially enjoyed protected designation of origin status since 2011, recognizing and protecting the time-tested traditions and savoir-faire perfected over hundreds of years in producing this beverage. Kirsch de Fougerolles is the first distilled spirit made of fruits with pits to obtain this status.
Kirsch de Fougerolles is a white distilled spirit coming exclusively from the distillation of fermented cherries. The beverage presents clear characteristics of fruit and nuts. When originally produced, the alcoholic beverage is clear and translucent, however, over time the drink can naturally develop a slight coloration after years of aging.
The use of a number of locally selected varieties of cherries, which are thus particularly well adapted to the soil and climate conditions of the area, and the use of a single distillation process are strong linking elements between the specific taste of the product and the natural and human environment in which it is created. The single distillation process in particular is unique – other distilled spirits usually go through a double distillation process – and provides the beverage with a lower alcohol content and a slightly fruitier taste.
All of the steps in making Kirsch de Fougerolles, from producing the cherries all the way to the finishing touches of the aging process, must take place in a specifically defined geographic region straddling the border between France’s Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté regions. Historically, the drink was always stored in a special hand-blown, dark colored glass bottle, known as a “bô” (from the old word “boteille,” the former spelling of the French word for bottle). Production of these special bottles, of which no two are alike due to their handmade nature, stopped in the middle of the 20th century, only to be revived once more after the product was recognized with protected designation of origin status. Now Kirsch de Fougerolles can be found in its unique “bô” once again.