Not all gin is created equal. The process of making gin involves a wide range of botanicals that are steeped in copper pots before being made ready for bottling and distribution. As gin is produced all over the world, no two ways of making it are the same. This is also true for the varieties of gin you can find too, including sloe gin.
If you are wondering, what is sloe gin? Here is everything you need to know about this quintessentially British drink.
Sloe berries come from the blackthorn bush and have a similar size and appearance to a blueberry. They are suitable to harvest in October and November, preferably after being exposed to frost. Though if you pick them early, this process can be mimicked by placing the berries in the freezer before they are used to make sloe gin. Placing the sloe berries into the freezer will also make the skins rupture instead of having to pierce them.
While sloe gin is considered a delicacy, the actual berries can be quite astringent in the mouth, especially if you try one as they are picked. This is despite the sloe berry being related to the plum family! They are of course, perfectly harmless to eat if you don’t mind the taste.
As the name suggests, sloe gin is made from sloe berries. Before being used, the berries will need to be pierced to allow the flavours to come through. The berries are then collected and placed in a large container, preferably a wide-necked bottle. A funnel is then added to the bottle, where sugar is added followed by gin and almond essence. The bottle is then sealed with a cork.
Sloe gin takes around 3 months to develop, so in this time you will need to shake the bottle every day until the sugar is dissolved before storing the mixture in a cool dark place. Over time, the sugar will disappear to reveal a crystal clear, ruby coloured spirit. Before enjoying, sloe gin needs to be strained using a muslin cloth, otherwise, the liqueur can spoil.
Sloe Gin Brands
While it is possible to make sloe gin yourself, the process takes several months and involves various steps. If you don’t want to wait, then the good news is that several gin companies also make their own version of sloe gin.
Gordon’s Sloe Gin has a deep crimson red colour to it with tasting notes of raspberry jam, blackberry and undertones of spice. It can totally reinvent the gin drinking experience, especially if you’ve never tried it before. Likewise, Greenalls Sloe Gin has bursts of cherry, almond, citrus and warm spice. Both are delicious, especially when served in the winter.
Sloe Gin Vs Regular Gin
Traditionally gin is colourless in its appearance and has undertones of citrus, which originates from the use of juniper berries. As many as 50 different botanical infusions are used to produce gin. It is usually enjoyed with a mixer drink such as tonic or lemonade and of course a generous handful of ice.
Sloe gin also uses regular gin in its creation. However, sloe berries along with sugar are added to the mixture. It then takes several weeks or even months to fully mature. The colour of sloe gin is also different from regular gin, and the overall taste is a lot more tart.
While regular gin and sloe gin can be consumed at any time of the year, due to its claret coloured hue, sloe gin is usually more popular around Christmas time. This also ties in with the time at which sloe gin is ready to drink, with the berries having been harvested in the autumn.
Find Out More
We hope you’ve found our above information on what is sloe gin helpful. In essence, sloe gin has all the refinement and enjoyment of regular gin but has a deeper colour to it. The flavours are more tart than you’d find normally, and on the whole, it completely reinvents the experience.
Whether you enjoy sloe gin, regular gin or flavoured gin, you’ll find a wide variety of gin here at Bring Me Drink. Whatsmore, we are also running a gin tasting testing competition. If you know what makes a great gin, then this could be the perfect opportunity for you! Be sure to follow us on Facebook too where we’ll keep you up to date with all the latest news, tips and competitions.