The legend goes that the Crusaders brought small red plums with a subtle aroma back from Damascus. They were distilled and enjoyed early on in Ajoie. The region’s limestone soil and climate allow the fruit to develop its quintessential aromas. And so Damassine brandy was born, now known as Damassine AOP, a true ambassador of the Canton of Jura and Ajoie region.
Damassine AOP brandy is a speciality of the Swiss Canton of Jura. It was made with the red damson—a small, wild, multi-fragranced plum brought back by the Crusaders on their return from Damascus—and then cultivated in Ajoie.
During the month of August, the damson tree blooms with its ripe fruit, which is collected in string bags every day for four to five weeks. More than 100 damsons are required to obtain a kilo of fruit, and almost 900 to be able to distil a litre of damassine brandy ready for the Feast of Saint Martin.
In the Canton of Jura there are many ways to find out more about this product: visit a distillery with its stills from yesteryear; enjoy a brandy tasting; or even go to the Swiss Museum of Fruit and Distillation: Ô Vergers d’Ajoie. Other points of interest: “the Damassine Path”, an educational trail, is located in the hills of the village of Mormont.
The origins of the damson have been lost through the ages, but legend has it that knights brought it back in their saddlebags from the Crusades. Or it could well have been a priest from Charmoille who ventured to Palestine in 1145. The one thing, however, that we do know for sure is that the name “damassine” was given to this brandy in reference to Damascus, the capital of Syria. The original and natural growing area of the damson is the Canton of Jura, particularly Ajoie. The region's limestone soil and climate allow the fruit to develop its quintessential aromas better than anywhere else.