It’s been a busy season, but thankfully I found time to get out and forage the local hedgerows for a decent sloe haul. They seemed to be in abundance this year. Contrary to the old wives’ tales, I didn’t wait until the first frost before picking. It’s the 19th November during one of the mildest Novembers on record and there still hasn’t been a cold snap yet in Surrey.
I appreciate that good sloe gin benefits from ageing so I like to infuse mine for four to six months, filter and bottle, then mature for another six or more months before drinking. As painful as it is in the first year, once you’ve made it through to the next sloe season, you can drink the previous year’s batch and needn’t wait as long.
Despite my enthusiasm for sloe gin, I’m not actually a big gin fan. In fact, I positively detest gin. That’s actually a good sign! Those of you unsure whether you’d like it, don’t be put off by any dislike for gin. Simply up the sugar quantity and you end up with a lovely sweet liqueur that’ll taste something like a fruit cordial. That said, this year I’m using vodka because once the sloes have done their thing, any botanicals from the gin are lost anyway. Be it sloe gin or sloe vodka, it’s delicious and you must try it!
This year I managed to harvest enough sloes to make a good batch of the normal recipe – somewhere between four to five litres. I’ve also tried something new…smoked sloe vodka. The recipe contains the full instructions and I can’t wait to see how this turns out.
Recipe here: smoked-sloe-gin