Top Tip for Making Sloe Gin

November 29, 2010


Slow Gin

The only ‘hard work’ involved in making sloe gin is foraging those sloes. Most recipes also advise you to painstakingly prick each sloe with a pin to allow the juices to leach out in the bottle. Forget this. I recently ran into Sipsmith’s master distiller, Jared Brown who gave me an absolute blinder of a tip – put the sloes in the freezer before bottling. This way, their structure breaks down through the freezing process, eliminating the need to prick.

Now it is really just a case of chucking everything in a bottle.

Sloe Gin

(makes a 1 litre bottle)

Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn bush and are best picked after the first frost, when they should be ripe.

500g sloes
Gin (I used Beefeater – not too simple or complex in flavour)
100g-150g caster sugar (I used 100g as I don’t like it too sweet but most recipes use 150g)

Once you’ve foraged your sloes, pick over and wash them thoroughly. You can be diligent and remove all little stalky bits if you like but as you can see I didn’t even bother doing that. Once frozen, sling the sloes into a clean 1 litre bottle. Funnel in the sugar and then cover with gin.

Turn the bottle daily for a week or two, then just turn it (upside down and back again) every week or so. You can drink it after about 2 months but 6 would be better (no-one ever waits that long). When ready to drink, strain the gin through muslin and re-bottle.

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    Reply Lizzie November 29, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I find the whole idea of foraging utterly terrifying. Knowing my luck (and what a div I am) I’d make poisonous berry gin instead…

    Yours looks delicious. Sounds like it might be ready in time for our February booze binge 😉

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    Reply Food Urchin November 29, 2010 at 10:32 am

    That’s exactly what we did with some damsons we pilfered a couple of months ago, freezer does the trick just perfect and you’re right who waits 6 months??????

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    Reply knit nurse November 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Yup, it also means if you have competition for the local blackthorn berries you can make sure to snaffle them first – and have your sloe gin ready for christmas. I picked mine way back in September!

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    Reply Sophie November 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    We do this every summer here in New Zealand, but with delicious summer fruits and vodka, then leave it for up to a year so we have something special for Christmas – this year we have mandarin, lemon and blueberries, but we’ve also made cherry, kiwi fruit and pomegranate before. Pomegranate was amazing – the little seeds look like little aliens floating in your bottle, and it has a really delicate flavour.

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    Reply Tales from the Tiny Kitchen December 1, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Ahoy Helen. I tried making sloe-based alcohol for the first time this year, in September, and because gin makes me mad and tearful, I used vodka instead. We had the berries steeping for 2 months, and had a little taste last night to check that the booze would be suitable for Xmas gifts. Divine!!! Don’t you think that sloes have the faint taste of cough mixture, though, a bit like Benylin?

    Here’s my voddy recipe should you care to try an alternative to gin:




  • Avatar
    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen December 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Looks gorgeous!

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    Reply Fiona Beckett December 2, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Not having had the foresight to forage any sloes may have to pass on that this year. What’s the Sipsmith one like?

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    Reply Emma October 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Making sloe gin for the first time. We are wanting to drink it at our wedding in June so will prob leave it 6 months if i can resist. How long can it stay in the bottle for after this?

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      No idea, sorry. Its never lasted that long in my house.

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    Reply June Jamieson December 24, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Loved the home made sloe gin we made some years ago. We have searched in vain to locate significant amount to gather since to make more. Plenty of bushes here on the Isle of Wight but hardly any berries in Autumn. We returned to where we thought we had picked for the first making but no bushes apparent. Any ideas anyone living on Isle of Wight?

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