Yes, Gin is most commonly linked with warmer weather and the great British Summer Time. However, let’s face it, British summertimes are often too brief and leave us wanting for more. Well, sloe Gin is the perfect excuse to keep you reaching for the gin during the colder months and we’ve created the ultimate guide on how to make sloe gin and everything else that you could possibly need to know.
What Is Sloe Gin?
Sloe Gin is a gin-based liqueur made by infusing sloe berries, from the Blackthorn bush, in Gin. The sloe berries are left to steep and infuse into the gin over months which results in a beautifully sweet and berry coloured gin.
What Is The Best Way To Drink Sloe Gin
Traditionally, sloe gin is served neat or as a hot toddy cocktail. These traditional serves are very autumnal/wintery and they are a must try for anyone who makes this gin.
You can enjoy sloe gin chilled as well, which opens up many opportunities to enjoy sloe gin in summer too. Sloe gin and ginger ale is an unknown gem of a drink and can be drunk all year round!
A Brief History Of Sloe Gin
Sloes are found on Prunus spinosa, a bush that is commonly seen all over the British Isles. This species of plant has an incredibly wide distribution, thanks largely to the historical planting of hedgerows in Britain. We can thank all those land barons for choosing hedges to separate their parcels of land.
Sloe gin is not a newcomer to the scene. It has been enjoyed by upper society and the working classes for hundreds of years. Traditionally, sloes were added to poor quality gin to mask the rather unpalatable tastes. In the past it was fairly common for gins to be made using constituents like turpentine spirits. It’s fair to say that the refined botanicals we are used to in the 21st century haven’t always been a major feature.
The sloe gin resurgence is no surprise to us at Vemacity. It is a delicious tipple and we encourage people to try making their own sloe gin at home - the process is incredibly simple and rewarding.
Picking Sloe berries: When should Sloe berries be picked?
So, you’ve decided that you want to make some sloe gin. You’re probably wondering when you should harvest some berries and get on with it! Well, tradition dictates that sloe berries should be picked after the first frost of each year. There are a few tell tale signs that sloes are ripe and ready for the picking:
- Colour- fruits should be a deep purple colour with no green flecks
- Firmness- a ripe sloe berry can be easily squashed in your fingertips so feel them while they are on the bush and don’t pick them if they are not ripe
- They’re naturally dropping from the bush - just give them a thorough wash in clean water
Pro-tip. Pick your sloes when ripe and juicy, rinse them and place in the freezer overnight. Or, prick each one with a cocktail stick a couple of times. Either of these techniques will really help with the infusion process!
Making Sloe Gin At Home
- 1 litre of Gin
- ~250g caster sugar (to taste)
- ~500g sloe berries
Step By Step Method
Step One: Add your fresh or frozen sloes and/or fresh sloes to a clean 2 litre glass jar which can be sealed tightly. If you don’t have a 2ltr jar then you can just split across two smaller jars, just try to split your sloes and sugar equally too.
Step Two: Add your gin of choice and the sugar to the sloes, then seal the jar and give it a good shake. It’s that simple.
Step Three: The first week is very important when making Sloe gin, so make sure you give the jar a good shake each day for at least the first 7 days.
Step Four: After you have given your Sloe Gin a good shake over the first 7 days you can sit back and watch the infusion take place over the course of a couple of months. You will see the deep colours developing and it won’t be long until you can taste the fruits of your labour.
Step Five: When you’re ready to decant your sloe gin you must ensure your bottles/ vessels are thoroughly cleaned and sterilised. Sloe Gin looks beautiful served in a nice clear bottle with a tag slung round the neck.
Step Six: In order to remove any macerated sloes we recommend using a fine sieve or muslin cloth to separate to leave you with a clean liquor. Pour your sloe gin through the sieve/ muslin cloth into a pouring jug and then into your chosen bottles/ jars. Ensure you seal the tops properly to keep your sloe gin fresher for longer.
How To Enjoy Homemade Sloe Gin?
If you’re anything like us, true gin lovers, this process is going to leave you wanting more. You can take your sloe gin to the next level by actually making your own gin first and then infusing sloe berries into that!
Vemacity’s Ultimate Gin Making Kit allows you to actually make your own gin within a matter of days! The botanicals included within this kit have been meticulously selected so that you can create truly delicious bottles of gin without owning a gin distillery. Each kit comes with some of our favourite recipes in our recipe booklet. However, we encourage you to be creative and master your own recipe!
Vemacity’s Ultimate Gin Making Kits come with all the necessary tools for you to easily make your own gin. You can select your botanicals from the kit and focus solely on the flavour profiles that you like the most! The kit also includes a cocktail spoon and jigger so that you can nail the perfect serve every time!
Vemacity have a range of beautiful gin glasses which can elevate your sloe gin experience. Why not visit our online store to equip yourself with all the tools to make and enjoy fine gins from the comfort of your own home.