KIRSCH (or KIRSCHENWASSER), a potable spirit distilled from cherries. Kirsch is manufactured chiefly in the Black Forest in Germany, and in the Vosges and Jura districts in France. Generally the raw material consists of the wild cherry kndwn as Cerasus avium. The cherries are subjected to natural fermentation and subsequent distillation. Occasionally a certain quantity of sugar and water are added to the cherries after crushing, and the mass so obtained is filtered or pressed prior to fermentation. The spirit is usually " run " at a strength of about 50% of absolute alcohol. Compared with brandy or whisky the characteristic features of kirsch are (a) that it contains relatively large quantities of higher alcohols and compound ethers, and (b) the presence in this spirit of small quantities of hydrocyanic acid, partly as such and partly in combination as benzaldehydecyanhydrine, to which the distinctive flavour of kirsch is largely due.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)