Last August, our first sojourn was made into the land of Cherry Bounce. The backstory is that we took 50+ pounds of pie cherries and made gallons upon gallons of cordial.
The trick to a good cordial is to not make it too sweet, and let it sit for months and months while the flavors magically develop. Made in July, we popped it open just before Christmas and were happy to find it to be incredible. It doesn't taste like cherry candy - instead it tastes just like fresh cherries. You can't buy this stuff in stores, and it goes down waaaaay to easily.
Here's the verdict on the different flavors:
Spices: The spiced versions came out too strong, and definitely tasted better as boozy cherries than in the cordials proper. I've gone back to revise the original recipe and cut way down on the amount of spices.
Vodka: The clear winner. The bounce is a gorgeous bright cherry red and has that fresh-picked cherry taste. This produced the least interesting boozy cherries. All the color and flavor ended up in the cordial and these bland little pale gobs of fruit were left over.
Rum: Lots of folks liked the rum, but it remided me of cherry cough syrup. If I do it again, I'll use spiced rum and half the amount of sugar. The Boozy cherries are good but pretty tart, so don't work as well in mixed drinks. They're great over ice cream.
Brandy: Lovely, complex and a bit spicy. This was my second favorite as it had a good spice-sweet-tart balance. It's a very dark red cordial, and works well with just a drop of spice in it. It's very a very Christmasey taste. These boozy cherries were definitely the best; rich and flavorful.
Bourbon: I thought I would love this more but it really just tastes like cherry flavored whiskey. It's okay, and the boozey cherries are okay, but at the end of the day it was kinda meh unless you're crazy for cherry flavored bourbon.
Next year we're going to make MASSIVE AMOUNTS of bounce and try other flavors too: peach, blackberry, blueberry, the list goes on. Tart fruits taste best, so we have high hopes for the plum and blackberry versions.