Learning how to make Sloe Gin is one of those skills that can turn into a yearly tradition, and save you money too. It’s becoming more popular than ever now that Gin in general is the word/drink on everyone’s lips.
As Sloe Gin matures in flavour year-on-year, it’s becoming similar to a vintage wine, with distillers selling their ‘vintage’ Sloe Gin at a premium prices.
Here is a quick summary of the process that you will be following.
- Break the skins of the sloes and place in a sterilised bottle/jar.
- Add sugar, Gin, then seal and gently shake your mixture.
- Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake once a week for at least one month
- Strain your mixture through a muslin into a second sterilised bottle/jar.
- Enjoy with ice and premium tonic water.
The Easy Way
If like me, you are not the kind of person who is blessed with bags of spare time, and prefer a ‘spur of the moment and to heck with all that pre-planning nonsense’ approach, you will be happy to learn how to make Sloe Gin the easy way. During my research I found a number of fancy methods were just too time-consuming and dull, so here for your reading pleasure is the super easy way to get things done.
You can have your Sloe Gin prepared and resting nicely in a dark cupboard in under 10 minutes!
How to Make Sloe Gin
Let’s get started!
As it felt a little like a scientific experiment, I have added the same titles in this post that I used as a moody teenager in my science class. I assure you that no Bunsen burners or safety goggles are required for this process. And remember, no running in the Lab or you will get 100 lines!
To make some delightful Sloe Gin to convince our family, friends, and next doors dog into thinking that we are actually some totally amazing person who has their whole life all mapped out.
Before you race to the kitchen and crack open the bottle of Gin, ensure you have all the necessary equipment below and order any items you don’t have. This eliminates the need to search through every cupboard in the house, or even worse look in the garage (if it’s anything like mine).
What You Need:
- 1 litre of good quality Gin (Tanqueray is a good choice)
- 500g sloes (fresh preferred but dried can be used)
- 100g caster sugar
- Plastic funnel
- 2 litre capacity glass jar/bottle (steralise before use)
- 1.5 litre capacity glass jar/bottle (steralise before use)
- Muslin cloth
- Meat tenderizer (Optional, but fun!)
Step 1 – Prepare the Sloes
Either place the Sloes on a tray and pop them in the freezer overnight so their skins burst, or to save time use a meat tenderiser and give them a gentle whack until their skins burst (it’s far more fun).
As a side note, some guides suggest you prick each and every single sloe with a needle. Have you seen how many there are? Plus it will take me 10 minutes to find my glasses to see those tiny things, and locate the plasters that I will need for my finger.
Step 2 – Get Mixing
With the sloes now either sufficiently defrosted or walloped depending on your preferred method, you can now add the sloes, sugar, and Gin to your 2 litre glass Jar, pop on the lid and shake gently for a minute or so.
Step 3 – Get your mobile phone
Place your mixture in a cool, dark cupboard.
Now you need to remember to shake the mixture once a week for a month, so set a reminder on your mobile or you will totally forget and wonder why in 5 years time there is some new sloe based mutant life form trying to escape that is now intent on World domination.
After a month, preferably 3 months if you can wait that long, strain the mixture through muslin into your sterilised 1.5 litre bottle. That’s it, time to sample the fruits of your labour!
After a minimum of one month your Sloe Gin will take on a lovely red glow and will be ready to strain and bottle for consumption. I do however recommend leaving it for 3 months if time permits to gain the optimal maturity.
The longer you leave your mixture the better, and of course any Sloe Gin that you don’t manage to drink this year will be cab be used next year, and will taste even better!
Making your own Sloe Gin is simple, fun and rewarding science experiment. You can of course cheat and purchase one of the many wonderful ready-made Sloe Gin’s if you would like to ‘try some before you make some’.
I have popped a recommendation at the end of this post for you.
End of Experiment!
Did You Know?
What are Sloe Berries?
Sloe berries are blue/black/purple in colour and grow on the thorny blackthorn plant (Prunus Spinosa) which is related to the rose family. The sloe berries are related to the plum and are edible, however you will find them very sharp to the taste. Due to their sharpness, they are mainly used as an ingredient for other delights, such as sloe gin, sloe vodka (although arguably vodka is gin), sloe jam and sloe chocolates among other things.
Mistakes to Avoid
Sometimes it’s better to know what NOT to do rather than what to do. Let’s cover four of the Sloe Gin mistakes to avoid making before we get started.
- Not having all the necessary equipment before you start is a sure-fire way to a frustrating Sloe Gin making experience
- Using a cheap Gin is not recommended. The price difference between a cheap Gin and a quality Gin is not worth the risk of ruining all your hard work.
- The addition of too much sugar is the enemy of the perfect Sloe Gin, please try to refrain from adding any more than the below recipe suggests unless you have a very sweet tooth!
- Forgetting to sterilise your bottles.
Check out this BBC Good Food Video Tutorial
How Best to Serve Your Sloe Gin
My recommended serving suggestion for your Sloe Gin is to keep it simple as the whole point is that you get to taste all your hard work, not some additive. It certainly does not have to be a Christmas tipple, and considering it matures month on month you can be enjoying last years labours in the summer.
- 50ml Sloe Gin
- 125ml Fever Tree Tonic Water
Sloe Gin Fizz
- 50ml Sloe Gin
- 25ml lemon juice
- 1 tsp fine sugar
- Top up with Processo
Ready Made Sloe Gin
If you have yet to make your own, then I recommend you pick up a bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin and see what you think.