Most Aromatic Stonefruits/Plums

Hi there,

I am helping a friend maintain a piece of agricultural property. We are in the very early stages of starting a craft distillery and would like to start planting a large amount of trees on the property so that they will bear fruit in 5-6 years by the time we are in full operation.

I am wondering if anyone here could tell me what they believe the most aromatic plum varieties are (e.g. the kind you can smell from a great distance away at peak ripeness)? We are aware of Mirabelle and Damson and have planted some of these, but are looking to expand into a little more obscure varieties. The more intensely fragrant and aromatic, the better since Brandy is basically a concentration of this character which can be added to other things (baking, sauces etc).

Thank you all very much!

I would help to know where you are located.

Flavorella is by far my most aromatic stonefruit. But it is suitable only in CA and a few other favorable locations.


Thank you for the reply,

I am on southeastern Vancouver Island. It has a unique microclimate and we have managed to grow many things here that are not typical of the pacific northwest.

Elberta peach is also very aromatic. The downside is that it gets very soft after three days of picking.

You have probably come to the wrong site for information about the best plums to grow for brandy. I don’t know of any members here who even have much knowledge of cider varieties.

This list, from Plumhill Farm in the Northeast, Z5, won’t really answer your question but might provide some ideas of varieties to experiment with. Any variety rated high on flavor undoubtedly gets up the brix.

Maybe you should be as concerned with productivity as taste. In the Northeast there is a wide range of productivity between plum types.

European Plums on the left, J. hybrids on the right. Values are rated 1–5 with lowest quality being 1. First number is production, second taste and third hardiness (not an issue where you are because it is winter hardiness).

I spent a good deal of time editing this to make it more readable but the program of the forum won’t let me do it. The edit looks fine with E plums and J plums clearly separated but the result goes up the same.

E. plums J plums

1 Starks Blue 4 2 4 Shiro 5 2 4

2 Early Laxton 4 3 4 Ozark Premier 3 4 2

3 PP 6995 5 3 4 Comet de Kumetz 5 1 5

4 Mt Royal 5 2 5 Methley 5 3 4

5 Fellenburg 5 4 4 Toka 4 3 4

6 Long John 4 3 4 Kaga 4 3 4

7 Early Blue 5 2 5 Gracious 5 3 4

8 NY71 5 3 5 Surprise (may be Kaga) 4 3 4

9 Castleton 5 3 5 Alderman 4 4 3

10 General Hand Purple Heart 5 5 3

11 Early Transparent Gage Early Costello 4 4 3

12 Ersinger 5 4 5 kahinta 5 3 4

13 Pearl 2 Ptistin #5 4

14 Empress 5 5 5 Pembina 5 3 5

15 Alabaster 3 4 4 Pipestone 5 3 5

16 Cambridge Gage Red heart 1 3 2

17 Imperial Epinese (not?) Starks Delicious 4 3 4

18 Hungarian Red 3 3 4 Red Glow 3 2 4

19 Opal 5 4 4 Superior 4 4 5

20 Kirkes Blue 4 4 4 Marisopal

21 Peach Plum 3 3 4 Obil’naja 5 4 4

22 Jefferson (blue prune) 3 4 3 Rema 5 3 3

23 De Montford 4 4 4 Au Auburn 3 3 3

24 Schoolhouse 5 3 5 Rose Marie 4 5 3

25 Mirabelle De Metz 3 4 3 Formosa 3 5 2

26 Mirabelle de Nancy 2 4 2 Sumumo 4 4 4

27 American Mirabelle 4 5 5 Early Golden

28 Oullins Gage 5 4 4 Satsuma (not?)

29 Seneca 3 4 4 Wickson

30 Royal de Vilvoorde 3 5 3 Duarte

31 Queen Anne 3 2 2

32 Yakima


So, Empress takes the prize? Looks like Satsuma and Duarte.are missing their numbers. I was wondering how they compare.

My thoughts as well. Also surprised to see Castleton with a 3 in flavor, and not far from Methley overall…C. its on my radar, but Empress seems like its a real star in the rankings.

For brandy you don’t necessarily want aromatic as fresh plum, the fermenting and distilling process kills off a lot of the aromatic compounds. Along with the Damson and Mirabelle I would get some Gage plums as well as other Euro plums such as French Prune and Coe’s Golden Drop. The Japanese plums I would guess would lose their flavor. You might want to try out some umbeyoshi plums, thats what the Japanese use for plum brandy.

Hi Scott,

While it’s true many things lose their aroma in conventionally done distillation (e.g. concord or niagara grape), there are certain distillation tricks that we have applied, which after aging the distillate for some time, will actually result in the gradual return of that original character. So we plan to use these tricks to every new fruit we approach. I appreciate your concern, though… I know many people who have gone through a large amount of expensive fruit to no avail, or only mediocre results.

Alan thank you for this chart. It is interesting to see empress plum is so highly rated. We had considered that one but opted for damson due to unavailability through our suppliers. We may just see if we can order and source empress in time for planting next year.

Here Empress is a relative work horse but prune plums that hold on the tree aren’t all that much different in quality when allowed to ripen fully. As far as the quality of Castleton, for all you east coast growers, it does hold onto the tree and turn rich and sweet to compare favorably with most other prune plums including Empress, IMO.

Besides Stanley and Damson, Castleton is the most consistent cropper here of any of the many E. plums I grow. It will even crop without cross pollination.

I actually prefer Valor to Empress, but Empress may be slightly more consistent of a cropper, but I’m not even sure of that.

Excellent. Thanks for the input as always Alan.

And good luck, MDH! This thread makes me want to drink something tasty.

Will Stanley Pollinate Valor or Empress?

Stanley is recognized as a powerful pollenizer of Euro plums. Some growers plant it just for pollination.

Mirabelle de Nancy.


Adding a table of the above Plum Hill Farms data Alan listed, in table format, along with some additions from another thread where Plum Hill Farms posted.



Is Empress plum the same as Italian plum?

Not at all. Empress is larger, sweeter and ripens a little later. Italians are small plums and here, they aren’t as consistent or heavy croppers as Empress. They have a more interesting flavor in a way because of more acid, but when an Empress gets above 20 brix or so, it may be your first pick. However reliability and/or crop volume (weight) makes it much more valuable to me than Italian.

I should mention that I don’t really find Eric’s quality ratings jive with my experiences here. I find Reema to be exceptionally good (his customers agree with me and not him). Also, there’s not much difference between prune plums once they’ve reached the same brix, and most can get there.

Thanks for the clarification. I asked because some websites said they were the same.

I should say, not that much difference between the prune-plums I grow. There are so many I haven’t tried.