This homemade cherry brandy is my grandmother's recipe and has been a family tradition for generations. Made in the summer with fresh cherries and plenty of bourbon, the resulting liquor is a Christmastime staple in our house and a perfect gift at the holidays.
To make this cherry liqeuer, you'll need:
- Cherries - fresh, dark sweet cherries are the best for this recipe. I'd recommend using some like Bing Cherries or black cherries. There are so many varieties of cherries though, the key is for them to be dark, sweet and ripe!
- Cinnamon sticks - I would not recommend trying to substitute ground cinnamon in this recipe. Cinnamon does not dissolve, so the ground spice will leave a gritty residue in the brandy. Cinnamon sticks will help infuse the spice flavour without leaving residue behind.
- Cloves - whole cloves should be used in this recipe, not ground cloves, for the same reasons as the cinnamon sticks. Whole spices are best for infusing flavours.
- Sugar - superfine granulated or caster sugar works best in this recipe.
- Bourbon - the type of bourbon can be a personal choice. My most recent batch was made with Woodford Reserve, but you can also use Jim Beam or any other bourbon available to you. My key tip - just like cooking with wines, never work with a liquor that you wouldn't drink on it's own!
Making your own homemade cherry brandy is a super simple process. All you'll need to do is add the cherries to your clean and sterile jar. Leave a little room so that you can fit your cinnamon sticks in.
Next add the cinnamon sticks. I usually put two cinnamon sticks per jar (see image 1 below), but this will depend on the size of jar and the size of your cinnamon sticks. If you're using particularly long cinnamon sticks, you may need to break these in half to fit the jar.
Add the whole cloves (image 2) and the sugar (image 3). Then pour the bourbon over top, filling the jar up, but leaving about half an inch at the top (image 4).
Screw the lid on tightly. This does not need to be sealed in the way you would for canning, but should be as tight as possible. Once closed, shake the jar to help mix the sugar into the bourbon and invert so that the lid side is now down on the countertop.
Leave this for about half an hour, then shake and flip the jar again. Repeat this a couple more times until the sugar is completely dissolved into the liquid.
Jars for Brandy
So the jar I used here is a 16-ounce classic mason jar. You can use smaller or larger jars, but will need to scale the ingredients up and down accordingly. Different styles or shapes of jars may impact the amount of bourbon you end up using as this is simply poured over the top and meant to fill the space.
The main consideration in selecting a jar for this cherry brandy is to ensure you will have a tight (airtight) seal. This is best achieved with a screw top lid. This is usually an airtight top and a band that you can screw tightly onto the jar.
Ageing and Infusing
The key to this brandy liqueur is the ageing. You want to leave the flavours time to infuse - the longer the better! My family has jars of this brandy that are several years old, but the general rule is to make the brandy and let it set for about 4 months.
You'll want to ensure that your cherries are submerged in the bourbon, the lid tightly sealed and the jars kept in a cool dark place.
Once your brandy has aged for at least four months, it is ready to drink! The best way to serve is in small glasses with some of the cherries on the side.
The cherries will have soaked up a lot of the bourbon and will be quite strong after 4 months maturing!
Follow the simple recipe for homemade cherry brandy below! This is an easy to follow guide for making a jar.
You can scale up or down dependent on the size of your jar or how many you want to make.
Similarly, the measurements are my personal preferences, but they can be adjusted to taste. If you like sweeter drinks or if your cherries are underripe, you may want to add a bit more sugar. If you like other spices, you can experiment! The only down side is you will have to wait a few months before you can sample your creation.
This cherry brandy will last for years. My family has several jars from unknown dates long past.
As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend making jars (usually in the summer) and consuming 4-6 months later. If you leave the jars for a year, they should still be fine as long as they were tightly sealed and stored somewhere dark and cool.
Yes! While this recipe is for cherry brandy specifically, you can try other fruits.
I would recommend working with fruits, like berries, that won't require you to cut them in order to fit into the jars. This is because fruits will soften and may lose their structure during the soaking process, this will be exacerbated if they are cut up first.
Want to try out some of my other family recipes? Check out:
- 16 ounce jar clean and sterile with airtight lids
- 20 cherries dark, sweet, whole cherries with stems removed (see note)
- 2 small cinnamon sticks or one large cinnamon stick broken in half
- 10 whole cloves
- ½ cup superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 1 cup bourbon whisky (see note)
- Begin by adding the cherries to your clean and sterile jar. Leave a little space at this point, the jar should be loosely filled up to within about half an inch of the rim.
- Fit the cinnamon sticks alongside the cherries. At this point the jar should be well packed. You can add some extra cherries if there is still space in your jar, but again leave about half an inch gap at the top.
- Add the whole cloves and the sugar.
- Pour the bourbon into the jar slowly. This will begin to dissolve the sugar and will sink into the jar, causing some air bubbles to come to the surface as it fills the space. Fill the jar, continuing to leave half an inch gap at the top.
- Tightly screw the lid onto the jar and shake the jar to help disturb the sugar which will have sunk to the bottom. Invert the jar so that it is sat upside down on the counter and leave to sit for about half an hour. (see note)
- After half an hour, shake the jar again and flip back over. Repeat this process (shaking and flipping the jar) until all of the sugar is dissolved - usually 3-4 flips.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, place the jar in a cool dark place and allow to sit for about 4 months to age. This will allow the flavours to infuse. (see note)
- After four months, open the jar and decant into small glasses, serve with the soaked cherries on the side.