VERY SLOE GIN
Having tasted virtually all the readily available Sloe Gin’s on the open market and a selection of home made concoctions, I deduced they were all in some way syrupy on the pallet, yet lacking in any real substance. I quizzed other people for a suitable recipe, and read up on a few historic ones in the hope of finding a magical secret ingredient, then took the best advice from them all, and made up my own to test out.
Keeping a check on the hedgerows and usual foraging spots I knew of gleaned nothing of any worth, then a friend tipped me off that the sloes on her patch were in season. It was private(ish) land so hadn’t been harvested by anyone else yet. The ripest fruits were picked from high on the tree thanks to being on horseback, then frozen as soon as we were home, two days later I was ready for them. Freezing the ripe fruit (even if it’s just overnight) splits the skins and lets the gin into the fruit, and the fruit bleed into the gin. The gin I used was Bombay Dry, just the regular version, not sapphire or star, you don’t need the posh stuff, but give any economy, supermarket or unbranded spirits a sidestep. The classic London Dry’s work well with the sloe flavour, to give an earthy note, rather than a sweet citrus one, producing a straight up and down sloe gin that outshines the shop bought bottles of syrup. If your already a fan of Ophir gin, try using that, as it is so heavily spiced it creates a heavenly warmth with plenty of depth.
The first time I made this I did 1 litre, and wished it had been 3, so I could have given some away as presents. This recipe is for 1 litre, but I really would advise making more. You’ll need to sterilise the jars or bottles you use. To do this, wash in very hot soapy water, rinse, then put them in the oven at 120c for 15 minutes. If you want to test it out as in the picture, use a small bottle half full of sloes.
1 large Kilner type jar - the tall spaghetti storage ones are perfect (sterilised)
1 litre Bombay Dry gin
Half fill the kilner jar with frozen sloes, throw in the almonds, then fill with gin. Leave some air space, as the fruit swells and you need to be able to shake up. Put the jar into a cool dark spot away from prying eyes, the back of a sideboard in a draughty dinning room is perfect. Check on it once a week and give it some gentle agitation. Try to wait 3 months at the least, then it’s ready for adjustment and bottling.
I keep any interesting spirit bottles with cork stoppers, but also use those bottles with the rubber sealed flip top lids, (or just pour it back into the original gin bottle and amend the label).
Get a large sterilised vessel and using the funnel and tea strainer decant the sloe gin into it. You should now have just under 1 litre of sloe gin, free of fruit, pips, stalks and almond debris, ready to taste test. If it’s hitting the spot straight off, pour it straight into bottles, or yourself. If it needs a little sweetness to balance it out, mix 4 teaspoons of caster sugar with a little hot gin to dissolve, then try stirring in a few drops at a time until it reaches your desired level before bottling up.
The gin infused sloes can be added to blackberries to make jam.