How to make and drink sloe gin
What Is Sloe Gin?
It’s rich, warming and fruity – a delicious winter drink!
Sloe gin is made from the fruit of the blackthorn, (sloes) and gin. This creates a red liqueur that’s dark and fragrant. Often confused as blueberries or small plums, (of which it is indeed a relative) – you only have to bite into a sloe to know it is neither. Its bitter and sour taste can only be tamed by alcohol!
When to pick sloes
The berries ripen after the first frost of winter but that’s difficult to schedule precisely depending on how the season pans out that year. A good old squeeze should tell you if they are ready, not hard, but not squishy or dried up. After picking them, sloe berries are traditionally pricked with a thorn taken from the blackthorn bush on which they grow. There is a school of thought that they should be frozen before gin making, which is the most effective way of breaking down the skins, essential to macerate their flavour into the gin. But if you want to make it a really craft experience, roll up your sleeves, grab a cocktail stick, and get pricking!
Considerations for making sloe gin
We advise you not to use a cheap gin because the sloes work well to highlight the flavors of the gin itself. If it’s a poor quality gin, that’s what you are going to taste.
To sugar or not to sugar? Essentially no, at least not to start with. Sloes do not ferment in the bottle, so sugar is only added to create the taste. If you want to sweeten your liqueur, add a simple syrup before drinking – but go carefully, sloe gin isn’t intended to be a sickly sweet drink.
How to make sloe gin
- Rinse about 500 grams of sloes, pat them dry and prick them.
- Place them into a 2-litre jar.
- Add 1 litre of Horse Guards London Dry Gin. Then shake it well.
- Shake at least once daily for seven days.
- Store in a cool, dark place and give it a quick shake every week. No need to belt it around or turn it every 3 hours – just leave it do its thing, giving it a bit of movement every so often.
- Then, strain it using muslin set over a bowl. This removes the remaining components of the fruit while allowing the sloe gin to settle at the bottom.
Its shelf life is basically indefinite, although we recommend drinking it in the year after making for its best flavours. Remove the sloes after about six months (have a sip and see if it’s the flavour you are after).
By EU spirit drink rules, sloe gin is the only type of gin-based liqueur that can be called gin without including the suffix “liqueur” in it.
Our Top 3 Sloe Gin Recipes
Sloe Gin and Tonic
A very simple but ideal way to enjoy this drink is to mix 50ml of sloe gin with 150ml of tonic water. Add the juice of one lemon to the mix in a shaker bottle. Fill a highball glass to the top with ice. Pour the sloe gin mixture over the top.
Sloe Gin Fizz
For those who like a bit more fizz, try this recipe. You’ll need one measure of sloe gin, one measure of Horse Guards London Dry Gin, and ½ a measure of lemon juice. Add this, along with one 1 teaspoon of simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Serve with plenty of ice and garnish with an orange or grapefruit slice.
Sloe Gin Negroni
For this recipe, you’ll mix 1 part each of Horse Guards London Dry Gin, sloe gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth together. Mix together and pour over ice. Add an orange twist.
Find out more about our London Dry Gin, our watch the video.