What is sloe gin?
This might sound a bit strange, but sloe gin isn’t actually gin… it’s a flavoured gin liqueur! To make sloe gin, you simply have to infuse a ready-made gin with sloe berries and sugar. That’s why sloe gin is easy to make at home – you don’t have to distill the gin yourself!
What is sloe?
Sloe refers to the berries found on blackthorn trees. They’re a type of wild plum that look a bit like juniper berries. While they taste incredible when infused with gin, we wouldn’t recommend eating them as berries – they are extremely sour and rather unpleasant as is!
How to make sloe gin:
- 500g of ripe sloe berries for every 1L of gin
- 500g of high-quality gin
Ripe sloe gin berries aren’t available all the time. Usually, sloes will be ripe enough to pick in the early autumn. Foraging for sloes is very fun and really rewarding, but if you don’t live near wild sloes, you can also find them online.
- Harvest sloes when ripe
- Freeze them for 24 hours – this will help to extract the flavour
- Sterilise your jar – this is an extremely important step! You can easily sterilise jars by washing them thoroughly, and then placing them into an oven set at 160°C for 10 minutes (or until completely dry). If your container has a metal or rubber seal/lid, sterilise them by soaking them in boiling water.
- Place the frozen sloes into your sterilised jar – enough to fill halfway
- Pour a good-quality gin into the jar and fill to the top
- Store the gin in a cool, dark place and make sure the lid is on tightly. Give the jar a good shake about twice a week to help the flavours infuse. It will take at least four weeks for your gin to take on a really rich flavour and colour, and you can leave it for much longer if you wish – we’d recommend at least three months.
- Take a sample to taste before bottling.
- If you’d like your sloe gin to be a bit sweeter, you can add some sugar syrup! You can create your own by combining equal amounts of sugar and water into a saucepan. Warm the mixture until the sugar dissolves, and then allow it to cool. If you bottle it, this sweet concoction can last a couple of months in your fridge. This is a great ingredient to have on hand because lots of cocktails call for sugar syrup!
- Once the gin is to your liking, strain the liquid through a muslin cloth and pour into a sterilised bottle. Keep the bottles in a dark cupboard or in your fridge. They can last for a couple of months.
There are lots of different ways to drink your homemade sloe gin:
- Have it neat as a delicious digestif
- In a hot toddy instead of rum
- Chilled over ice (this is great on a hot day!)
- In a champagne flute, topped with prosecco
- As a mulled drink with festive spices
Of course, sloe berries are just the beginning! You can infuse gin with lots of different flavours – some of our favourites include strawberry, rhubarb, mint, and lavender.
If you try making sloe gin at home with our recipe, let us know how it goes! And if you’d like to read more how-to guides, head to our blog.