Making the perfect sloe gin has taken a good deal of practice and a fair amount of drinking to perfect… We’ve a collection of various vintages and combinations, including blackberry and sloe gin tucked away in the cupboard, all of various qualities but all well tested as Teear tends to start on them when left up late with a drinking partner… as Diane’s “perfect” other half has experienced!
Over the years I’ve got it wrong too many times to count, or at least made it more complex than it needed to be but it’s actually really very simple…
Being a sucker for myths and legions, I’ve waited for the first frost before picking only to wait and wait in the warmer autumns and the sloes become over-ripe and mushy, I’ve painstakingly pricked each fruit using a silver pin (like is was vampire or something!) and even used the thorn from the bush it once came… yep that much of sucker!
Anyway, I think I’ve now nailed it as last years was the best ever…
Firstly you’ll need to find your sloes if you’re a picker and not a buyer (easily found on Ebay) then now is the ideal time and it’s a super bumper year, in abundance and monster sized too – so big I struggled to get some through the neck of the bottle, that’s never happened!. They grow in hedgerows on wild blackthorn trees and easy to identify, you’ll know if ripe for picking by popping the berries between your thumb and finger, if they pop they’re ready. You’ll need enough to fill half the bottle you’ll be using and if this is your first time making I’d suggest collecting enough for two batches as ideally you’d want to leave it for a year or even longer if you can as like us ladies it gets better with age!
I put mine in the freezer overnight as this helps to split the skins and releases the juice, which avoids all that pricking!
- Sterilise the bottle/s – I use a Milton tablet.
- No need to defrost as the frozen fruit can go straight into the bottle, fill to half way.
- You can add two table spoons of caster sugar (I don’t as prefer to taste when ready and add sugar syrup if needs to be a little sweeter)
- Top up the bottle with your chosen gin (a quality one)
- Put in a place that’s out of direct sunlight and give it a gentle twist to mix the contents every so often.
- Leave for at least 3mths before removing the fruit, I use a special fine mesh funnel thingy (technical term!) but you can use a clean muslin cloth.
- Throw the fruit away (or find another use)
- Drink or save for the following year when it’ll be even better!
If you’re adding the sugar syrup at the end the method’s simple; equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat, then let cool before adding.
Top Tip: Use a quality gin and not a cheap one or you’ll get what you paid for… cheap tasting sloe gin and ruin all that picking and prepping! Chase Gin is my absolute favorite, it made locally to us, they’ve won all sorts of awards and just divine – checkout their website: www.chasedistillery.co.uk
But for my sloe gin I use Tanqueray which I also love, it’s distilled four times and found it’s perfect.
Christmas Cocktail: Add a dash to some fizz and you got yourself some lively Christmas spirit called a “Sloegasm”…. Who doesn’t fancy one of those on Christmas day?!