Sloe gin recipe

The soggy summer has made last year a bad year for sloes, but if you can manage to get hold of some, it will make 2012 vintage sloe gin a more valuable commodity than ever. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a glass or two of this gorgeous, jewel-coloured liqueur, and if you happen to have any left, it mades a fabulous champagne cocktail.

sloe gin 3

It doesn’t matter what kind of gin you use – in fact, many sloe pros advise the cheaper, the better. The flavour comes from the berries themselves, and of course from the sugar you use. This choice is up to you – white sugar will result in a sweeter, lighter flavour, while brown gives a richer result, more akin to port.

Sloe gin has a reputation for being an awful faff to make, and so it is if you follow the method of pricking each berry with a pin before bottling. However, this is not really necessary – the same result can be achieved by freezing the berries and defrosting them to burst the skins.

Finally, the bad news. Although your sloe gin will be ready to drink if you make it now, it will improve enormously with time, and will be at its best a couple of years from now. Some sloe gin experts age theirs for up to 15 years or even longer.

Makes 1 litre

  • 750ml gin
  • 600g sloes
  • 150g sugar

Mix the gin, defrosted sloes and sugar together and place in preserving jars. Put the jars in a dark place to infuse, giving them a shake every day for a week and once a week thereafter. After 8–12 weeks, strain the gin, filter through coffee filters and bottle it (250ml Polo bottles are the ideal size for giving as gifts, especially if you include a recipe so the recipient can replenish their stock!). The sloe gin can be drunk immediately but is best left to mature.