Sloe Gins

What with various new Sloe Gins on the market, and insight needed in order to differentiate between them all, we thought we had better divulge all of our sloe knowledge over to you. Yes. Being the kind folk that we are, we’ve gone and tasted a trio of new Sloe gins just for you.

Sloe Gin has become synonymous with winter warming, a delicious tipple to take away those winter blues, in a hip flask if you part of the country posh folk… It’s popularity never ceases to fade, instead it has become a regular on bar menus across the country.  Whether you want it straight up, in a cocktail or on the rocks remains up to personal choice but just begins to show how diverse and accessible this gin can be.

The early history points towards the 16th Century, and that Sloe gin came about due to the economical nature of the British countryside. We’re not going to give you a lecture but the abridged story goes something like this…

Through various laws, ideas surrounding the land of the commons changed, and a reform in agriculture meant that what was once public land became split up and taken by private landowners was enforced. This meant that as fields became enclosed blackthorn hedges multiplied in number, becoming the necessary boundary field marker. Because of this, sloes became a common by product all over the UK. Their taste however was deemed too bitter and unpleasant to be consumed on their own, and so after various experiments on how best to use them, they were added to gin (the increasingly popular alcoholic choice of the time,  which no doubt needed to be masked given it’s poor quality in the early years) and a new drink was born! Although it must not have seemed like it at the time, but something good came out of people being stripped of land by the gentry and only have poor quality spirits to drink for comfort. Sloe Gin was the silver lining and has stayed the course ever since.

This winter even more sloe gin variations have appeared in our midst; Chase, Bloom and Professor Cornelius Ampleforth have all brought offerings to the table. With their variations in ingredients used during the sloe infusion and the different gins used as the base, between the three there is a varied spectrum of flavours to suit all taste preferences.

Due to popular demand, Professor Ampleforth’s Sloe Gin is back! First released last year, and rapidly sold out, the Professor has had to get back in the kitchen where he knows how to work best. Sloe heavy, with various other botanicals added including juniper berries, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and orange peel, this gin will be the favourite of all marzipan lovers, with hints of almond and berries being the predominant flavours.

William Chase’s Sloe and Mulberry Gin is a step away from the more traditional sloe gins, with mulberries becoming one of the key ingredients. Leaving their sloes to sit for eight months, they added the mulberries to the marinade and allowed them to meld together for a further two months before bottling. This has given the gin a somewhat more distinctive twang, with a stronger berry note on the palate.

Sloe Bloom Gin comes back to the more traditional version; using handpicked sloes, which are then left to macerate in Bloom Gin for several months, this gin produces a very rich and floral taste.

All three of these sloe gins come highly recommended and make for a perfect Christmas gift for any gin lover. If however you have the time, and can wait until the New Year before you have a taste, why not try your hand at making your own drink?

How to make your own Sloe Gin:

Making Sloe Gin could not be easier, and if you want it to it can even involve a day’s adventure out in the country foraging among the hedges; just make sure that the sloes you pick or buy are of a good quality. As there are only three main ingredients, it’s worth your while that they are of a decent kind, as it will be more than reflected in the finished gin once the sloe process is ready.

Pop yours sloes in the freezer overnight. This means you don’t have to waste time going through making sure you have picked every sloe. Freezing does the same thing as pricking does: by cutting the fruit you allow the skin to rupture and the flavour to spill out and be infused in the gin.

Place all your sloes in the receptacle you are going to use. Once it gets to near enough half way, add your gin. Yes, choose good quality gin. Now for the patience-is-a-virtue part: wait at least THREE months before opening. Taste and then add simple syrup to your preference. Adding the sugar in afterwards makes it easier to valence. If you add in before, there is no control over the amount of sweetness you will achieve at the end.

Once you’ve decanted, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy your homemade sloe gin!

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Sloe Gin: Coming in at £25.95 for a 50cl bottle, this creation can be brought from the Master of Malt website.

William Chase, Sloe Mulberry Gin: Available at selected retailers and online at the Chase Distillery website, you can grab this 70cl bottle for £27.50.

Sloe Bloom Gin: For £25.00 a bottle (50cl), you can pick up this drink from one of the Harvey Nichols Store and online. It will also be being sold at the Taste of Christmas from the 21-24 November, Tobacco Dock, London.

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