What Is Cherry Heering Liqueur?

What's the Difference Between Cherry Heering and Kirsch?

Cherry Heering Liqueur

Cherry Heering

Cherry Heering is a popular cherry-flavored liqueur produced in Denmark from Stevens cherries, spices, and neutral grain alcohol. It's frequently classified as cherry brandy and an essential ingredient in classic cocktails like the Singapore sling and blood and sand. Preferred by bartenders worldwide, the ruby-red liqueur is one of the best-tasting cherry spirits on the market. It is a good substitute for cherry brandy in drink recipes, as well as maraschino liqueur, though Cherry Heering is sweeter.

Cherry Heering vs. Kirsch

Both Cherry Heering and kirsch (or kirschwasser—German for "cherry water") are cherry brandies, though the difference is significant. Cherry Heering is decidedly sweeter, has a deep red color, and a very distinct cherry taste with hints of almond. On the other hand, kirsch is clear, dry, and has a bitterness contributed by the cherry pits.

Substitutions

For the most part, cherry liqueur or brandy, kirsch, and maraschino liqueur will work as substitutes for Cherry Heering and vice versa. Like kirsch, maraschino liqueur is also clear and has a bitter aspect produced by cherry pits, though it has more of an underlying almond flavor. Maraschino has more herbal notes, the cherry flavor is very light, and it is sweeter than kirsch, but not as sweet as Cherry Heering. Since maraschino and kirsch are a bit drier, you may need to add a little extra sweetener to the drink when using either as a Cherry Heering substitute.

Inexpensive sweet cherry liqueurs can be more medicinal and syrupy than Cherry Heering. However, premium versions may be a good fit and will match its sweetness.

Be aware that "cherry brandy" refers to both true brandy distilled from cherries and (more commonly today) cherry liqueurs such as Cherry Heering. The latter is much sweeter because true cherry brandy is unsweetened, so adjustments to the drink's sweetener are necessary when substituting one for the other. To tell the difference, look at the alcohol content. The liqueur version of cherry brandy is generally 30 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 60 proof) or lower, while true cherry brandy is around 40 percent ABV (80 proof).

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: dark cherries, spices, neutral grain alcohol
  • Proof: 48 
  • ABV: 24%
  • Calories in a 1 1/2-ounce shot: 120
  • Origin: Denmark
  • Taste: Sweet, cherry
  • Aged: 3 to 5 years
  • Serve: straight, on the rocks, cocktails

What Is Cherry Heering Made From?

Cherry Heering was created by Peter F. Heering in 1818 and based on a recipe he received from his boss's wife. Founded in Denmark, this liqueur quickly gained global recognition and was noted as a favorite among many of the world's royal courts during the 19th century. It is marketed as "the original cherry brandy" and is still produced in Copenhagen. In 2017, the brand was purchased by De Kuyper Royal Distillers, a large Dutch liquor company well-known for producing a variety of liqueurs.

The label simply reads "Heering," though it's often referred to as Cherry Heering. The ruby-red liqueur is naturally flavored with Stevens cherries, a dark variety of the fruit native to Denmark that's known to grow wild. The cherries are lightly crushed then soaked with a spice blend in neutral grain spirits. The mixture ages in casks for three to five years and is circulated every few months before the spirit is bottled at 24 percent ABV (48 proof).

The Heering website states that Cherry Heering contains nuts. Drinkers who are allergic to nuts should avoid drinks that contain this liqueur. It is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, and the label bears the OU emblem.

What Does Cherry Heering Taste Like?

Since Cherry Heering is naturally flavored, it lacks the medicinal cough syrup-like taste of many cherry-flavored distilled spirits. Instead, it is sweet and rich like cherry jam with a lovely fruit tartness and hints of wood and almond.

How to Drink Cherry Heering

Cherry Heering can be too intense to drink on its own. When allowed to chill over ice for a bit, it does become more enjoyable and works well as both an apéritif and digestif. This liqueur is best in mixed drinks and cocktails. Topping it with seltzer or tonic water in an ice-filled glass creates a refreshingly sweet spiked cherry soda. Its bold flavor also stands up to various flavors in the most complex cocktails.

Cocktail Recipes

The Singapore sling is the most famous Cherry Heering cocktail, and its popularity is followed closely by the blood and sand. Beyond those two classics, you'll find the liqueur in several impressive modern cocktail recipes. Cherry Heering is also a good choice for any recipe that calls for cherry brandy or liqueur.

Cooking With Cherry Heering

Several food recipes (especially sweet desserts) use cherry brandy or liqueur, and Cherry Heering is an excellent option. You'll find it in many cake recipes, including holiday fruitcakes and recipes from Eastern Europe, cherry-infused chocolate candies, and sweet dessert sauces.