As a gin enthusiast, and lover of all things ‘homemade’ I decided 2017 would be the year to make my first batch of Sloe Gin. Following a lot of research (and sifting through articles and articles of contradictory myths) I settled upon the Sipsmith way.
Myth number one – you need to wait until the first frost before you pick your sloes. This one would have been a tough one for me to adhere to anyway, due to my current packing up and moving house situation. So I was happy to see Sipsmith say waiting is not necessary, and sticking the berries in the freezer once picked would achieve exactly the same result. Why would you do this? Because apparently it ruptures the skins, allowing the juice blend with the gin easier.
So, following a hard day in the office, I set out in search for the sloes, heels on and all. Guided by the local knowledge of Mrs Jo Eames, I started with an ancient hedgerow at the edge of the village. I’m guessing I probably wasn’t dressed like your average evening stroller – as a few questions were raised by dog walkers as to my wellbeing! With the sun setting, and reaching the end of the track, I was beginning to lose all hope. Hell, I didn’t even know what a sloe looked like! Hallelujah for Google, hey. Finally, I spotted what was definitely not a crab-apple, and didn’t look much like a rose hip, so I derived it surely must be a sloe. I was obviously not the first to reap the fruits of this blackthorn bush, the only remaining sloes were of course, almost out of my reach. Alas, I was over the moon. A bag full later, and a torchlight walk back to the car, I had the goods.
After a night in the freezer, I was ready to start the ever so slow process. I was told by Lewis Johnstone of Haymans Gin that the biggest mistake made by those who brew their own sloe gin is adding too much sugar at the start of the process. So my gin currently has only two ingredients – sloes and gin. The sugar I will add to taste throughout the process, until I’m finally happy. Being an impatient person, the thought of waiting three whole months for the fruits of my labour seems impossible… But the thought of a Christmas day tipple of my very own infused spirit is an exciting one!