Straight Rye Whiskey And Cherry Bounce

When watching an old western movie, the cowboys typically slammed the whiskey down and would have benefitted from straight rye whiskey and cherry bounce. There were no nuanced aromas or delicate flavors on your palate in a saloon or tavern. It was whiskey, young rugged, and not aged in a charred barrel. If you were lucky, it was not adulterated with tobacco juice or colored with shoe leather, and it was just the rotgut whiskey of the times.

George Washington   

George Washington was a revolutionary war hero, our first president, and a successful distiller. General Washington would distill rye whiskey, which was typical of eastern farmers. His distillery produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799. This whiskey was strong, aggressive, and probably not the tastiest of spirits. However, he did enjoy his cherry bounce. There are records of George Washington filling a canteen with cherry bounce before leaving on a journey.

Straight rye whiskey and cherry bounce. A look at Mammoth Distilling and Bourbonfool cherry bounce.
Two versions of cherry bounce. Mammoth Distilling on the left and the homemade bourbonfool cherry bounce on the right.

What is cherry bounce?

Historically, cherry bounce is a brandy-based drink popular in the eighteenth century. Documentation shows that George Washington carried the canteen mentioned above during a documented trip in 1784. However, I sincerely believe that using the era’s more commonly available rye whiskey would also make cherry bounce. In the south, residents used peaches to create a peach bounce. Excess fruit harvests were the ideal way to flavor whiskey that was not inherently flavorful.

The original recipe vs. the bourbonfool recipe

History shows the original recipe included fresh sour cherries, brandy, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I decided to follow the original recipe, except I would substitute rye whiskey for brandy. The goal was to create something popular in American culture dating back to the revolutionary war.

The Bourbonfool recipe for cherry bounce:

  1. Take 2 lbs. of fresh tart Michigan cherries and remove the pits and stems. I then mashed the fruit extracting as much juice as possible.
  2. I then added sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to the mash.
  3. To this, I added one bottle of straight rye whiskey into a gallon jar.  I continued to mix it for a week to ensure that the sugar was dissolved and thoroughly infused the spices into the mixture.
  4. After two weeks, I decided to sample it, and it was much better tasting than I had hoped. To me, it has a historic taste that reminds me of a simpler time. I keep the jar covered in a cool dark area.

The finished product has the texture and sweetness of a cordial with a unique, warming flavor. It is terrific on its own but will also make a great cocktail syrup. My only regret was not making more of it. 

Mammoth Distilling Cherry Bounce

Yes, you can purchase a commercial version of cherry bounce made by the Mammoth Distilling Company, made from Michigan cherries. Mammoth Distilling has five Michigan locations that feature tastings and sales by the bottle. However, I found my bottle at one of my go-to liquor stores Brighton Market, in Brighton, Michigan. The Mammoth Cherry Bounce is a tasty product with a different flavor profile than the batch I made. The bourbonfool batch is sweeter and a little spicier, but both are memorable, especially if you enjoy cherries.

What’s new at Charlie’s this week

You will want to find out more about Cinder & Smoke 13-year-old straight bourbon aged in Tennesse and Kentucky. With direct roots to Bardstown, Kentucky, and Nascar racing, it is an up-and-coming story! Watch our video review HERE.