sloe gin making

Friday Lush: Sloe Gin

I’ve been busy preserving, infusing and bottling lately, like a squirrel getting ready for Christmas.  This year has been a brilliant year for sloes, they have been in abundance so it seemed rude not to get out there and pick some to make sloe gin.

I went to the aptly named Blackthorn Woods, apt as sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn bush, with my mum.  What Jennifer doesn’t know about foraging for things that can be added to booze is not worth knowing. So we said ‘pah!’ to the drizzle and then ‘boo!’ to the gale force winds. We then said, ‘OK, that’s enough then’ to the horizontal rain and trudged home happy but frozen with a good haul of blue black ravenesque fruit.

There’s a belief that you should only pick sloes after the first frost; we’ve had plenty of them now, but if you’re picking early in the season this can be overcome in general by washing, de-stalking and freezing the berries before use.  I froze mine but only because I was gin-less when I picked them.  There’s conflicting views on whether or not to prick the berries before use.  The skin of mine had split a little where I’d removed the stalks and then frozen them but if the berries you use are smooth and frosty looking, without a blemish, then I’d prick them first with a darning needle to ensure you get the flavour to infuse into the gin.

Speaking of gin, I wouldn’t use my favourite gin to make an infusion, no that’s for sipping or drinking with tonic. For the record I’m loving Martin Miller’s and Warner Edwards at present. I used Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell gin which retails at £9.95 for 75cl and £15 for a litre.  It’s a really nice gin, it beat a number of other very well known brands recently in a blind taste test and took a silver medal at the International Spirits Challenge earlier this year.

So, the waiting game begins again.

Sloe Gin

Serves 75cl
Prep time 20 minutes
Meal type Beverage

What you will need

  • 450g sloes (washed and with any stalks removed)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 75cl gin
  • large sterilised glass jar


Step 1 Wash and de-stalk the sloes. Prick them with a darning needle if the skin is unbroken. If using frozen sloes this is not necessary
Step 2 Add the sloes to the jar, pour in the sugar and the gin.
Step 3 Set aside in a dark place for at least two months. Give the bottle a gentle shake as and when you remember to help release the flavour into the gin and dissolve the sugar.
Step 4 Strain through muslin, I use a muslin jelly bag for this, and decant into sterilised bottles.

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