- 140g Sloes
- 105g Sugar
- 300ml Gin (or Vodka)
October / November is the perfect time to go foraging for sloes, a species of plum. These super tart and astringent fruit are suitable for little more than flavouring alcohol, but that is something they do excellently.
I started off using the excellent book by John Wright, Booze: River Cottage Handbook No.12, but have added more sugar as I prefer it a tad sweeter to take the edge off the alcohol. I like my sloe infusion to be like a fruit cordial – dangerous in its alcohol concealing ways!
Smoking the sloes adds a highly unusual touch you can actually see in the alcohol, which immediately turns yellow when first added. This will fade when the anthocyanin pigments start to come out of the sloes.
Ensure you mature this for as long as possible to reap the full benefits.
- Around October/November go foraging for sloes (they are fairly easy to identify, the internet should help you if needed).
- Freeze the sloes for a day in a zip-loc bag if you haven’t had a frost yet. Some say the chill helps release the sugars and break cell walls to get the infusion off to a good start.
- Thaw the sloes and place on a wire rack or sieve that will support the sloes while allowing smoke to lick them.
- Using a cold smoke generator (I use, and love the Pro Q Cold Smoke Generator) top it up with birch dust and ignite one end. Place everything inside a BBQ and close the lid and allow to smoke for ~10 hours.
- Remove fruit from the BBQ, place into a 500ml container (kilner jar works perfectly), add the sugar and the alcohol.
- Shake the jar for a few minutes and repeat daily for first few weeks. Periodically after that.
- Allow to infuse for 4-6 months.
- After infusion time (Feb-April), use a muslin cloth to filter out the whole fruit and any pulp.
- Bottle and label the gin. Wait until Christmas (approx 8 months or so), crack it open with close family and friends and enjoy.