Traditional Swiss eau de vie from a classic area for kirsch
Two Centuries Of Swiss Eau De Vie
Set among the towering Swiss Alps in the Zug region of Switzerland, the Etter family has been producing fruit-based spirits since 1823. Johann Baptist Etter started things off when he started distilling cherries into kirsch on his farm. The Etter business was formally founded in 1870, when Johann's son Paul made eau de vie production his main occupation and moved the company from his farm to a facility in the town of Zug. Fifth generation Gabriel Gallicker-Etter took over management of the company from Hans Etter in September 2013. Hans remains a constant presence at the distillery, however, imparting his wisdom and experience — particularly with regard to tasting and blending. Etter remained at its original location until 1980, when it moved across town to a modern production facility.
An Expression Of Swiss Fruit
Etter aims to achieve the purest and most complex expressions of Swiss fruit through distilled eaux de vie. This dedication to using 100% local fruit is an expensive and unpredictable approach, but it is fundamental to the Etter vision. There is significant variation in fruit character from year to year in terms of sugar and acid levels, which affects many aspects of the production process. It takes around 10kg of fruit, depending on the fruit, to create one 750ml bottle of eau de vie.
Timing is a crucial aspect of quality control at harvest. Fruit is picked by hand and must be transported to the distillery quickly to avoid premature fermentation, particularly with the cherries.
Production Of Etter Eau De Vie
Natural fermentation with wild yeast takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, and distillation takes place throughout the cooler months, starting in October and running through May. Eight new stills were purchased for the new distillery in 1980; they are steam-heated copper column stills built in Germany and capable of distilling 350kg of fruit per batch. Batches are single distilled. Maturation varies depending on the fruit and expression. The word vielle implies wood maturation, though even the clear eau de vie experiences several years of aging in neutral vessels, primarily 50-liter glass demijohns along with stainless steel tanks. The glass demijohns age in non-temperature controlled cellars on various Etter farms and are subject to considerable temperature variation from day to night. A small amount of oxygen transfer is allowed to keep demijohns from exploding, and it also has a maturing effect on the spirit. While kirsch is typically bottled after a couple years of maturation, it can continue to mature and evolve for over 100 years.
Zuger Kirsch is Etter's flagship product. Over 100 varieties of cherries are used, all grown in the Zug region by approximately 70 farmers. After single distillation, the kirsch is matured for at least two years in 50-liter glass demijohns. Blending varies from year to year; some blends are of a single year, while others blend several years together in order to achieve proper balance. 41% ABV
- 91 Points - Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2017
- "The Etters do not use bulk ethanol and chemical flavors like some (O.K. most) of their competitors to make some bastardized vodka kool-aid and pass it off as eau de vie. It uses a much more true (but expensive) process...well worth the money for a well made, hand-crafted product." - SpiritsReview.com
Extra-ripe small pears are sourced from the right bank of the Rhône River in the Wallis region of Switzerland. Maturation takes place for at least one year in stainless steel tanks. 42% ABV
- ★★★★★ Highest Recommendation - F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal
Wild raspberries are sourced from mountains in Switzerland and matured for at least one year in stainless steel tank. 41% ABV