The Riga Black Balsam Cherry version was published in 2012 and was the third product in this series of Latvian bitter digestives. The cherry version is similar to the previously released blackcurrant, i.e. juice or juice concentrate has been added to the legendary Riga black balsam. In addition to being enjoyed neat or with ice, the manufacturer recommends using it for a variety of cocktails, a few of which can be found on the company’s own website. A 50 cl bottle of Cherry balsam costs about 10 € in Estonia.
The thick aroma of sweet cherry totally masks the herbiness and bitterness of the liqueur. The taste is familiarly thick, very sweet and with a strong cherry flavour. Apart from the strong taste of the cherry juice, there is little else. The aftertaste on the tongue slightly tingles with bitter and herbal tingling. The thick sugariness also hides the burn of alcohol, 30% of the strength is hardly felt at all. Unlike the blackcurrant version, which was at the same time both very berryish and bitter, the cherry version has only strong cherry flavour and the herbal, bitter flavors are deep in the background.
As a cherry liqueur, Cherry Black Balsam is great, the cherry taste is really strong and the underlying herbiness fits perfectly in the palette. But as a digestive it is quite lean, the bitterness feels only slightly in the aftertaste. Compared to the original Black Balsam, the difference is huge. It is slightly unbalanced, there could be maybe less cherry juice and especially sugar to give the bitter herbs more space. However, Cherry Balsam is very pleasant and easy to sip. Although it is very sweet, the bitterness of the aftertaste suits very well and makes it a good dram, especially with ice or a drop of water. The cherry flavor also has enough kick to make the Balsam for a decent cocktail ingredient.