“Beloved, we join hands here to pray for gin. An aridity defiles us. Our innards thirst for the juice of juniper…” — Wallace Thurman, Infants of the Spring
This year we decided to make homemade christmas presents for our friends and family, and what better present than a slurpalicious batch of sloe gin. If you are reading this blog you may have received a bottle from us and we hope you enjoy it.
I’d like to tell you a little more about making sloe gin. The first step of which is picking the sloes.
Sloes look like this:
These are in fact the sloes we picked for your gin, near our house in the village of Histon.
We waited for the sloes to ripen when they give a little to the touch and then hit the trees for collection time.
Overall we picked about 4 kgs of sloes. Here they are below, carefully washed and destalked by James!
Then we needed to freeze them to rupture the fruit. So, off they popped into the freezer in freezer bags, after carefully being weighed.
Next we needed some gin! Here’s some:
Oh, and here’s some more, 4 litres in fact. We needed plenty of gin, as Noel Coward said:
“A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy.”
We decided to use the Sipsmith recommended method of making Sloe gin. Which instead of adding sugar at the start calls for just adding the gin to the sloes and then sweetening to the exact sweetness called for later with a sugar syrup (made of sugar and as little water as possible to dissolve it, and keep it dissolved, at room temperature). We found this to be a great method, as when tasting the gin later we found you could easily oversweeten it. Also apparently it allows the natural fruit sugars to emerge first, which happens less when exposed to non-fruit sugar, or some rubbish like that which sounded important at the time.
So after the sloes had ruptured, time to add gin!
After a few weeks it looked like this:
After a few more weeks it looked like this:
After a few months of steeping and turning, it looked like this:
Time to open it up!
Then it was time to add sugar syrup to make it an optimum sweetness, then bottle it!
First we needed to strain out all the sloes and the little bits of sloe jelly they make after bursting and mixing with the alcohol. We used a funnel with a piece of butter muslin and strained the gins into the original gin bottles. We saved the alcohol soaked berries to make “slider” later, by adding Cider to the gin soaked sloes to make a flavoured, fortified, Cider drink.
OOPS, someone overfilled it! Sloe error:
Yeah I guess that was me!
You can see the sugar syrup in a pan in the photo above. This was made up of about 1.5 parts sugar to 1 part water. We then added it little by little to a test batch of the sloe gin called “number 1” we thought we’d hit on the perfect ratio of sugar syrup to get the right sweetness being 17%.
An initial taste test:
Later we found our calculations were a little bit off, perhaps from all the “tasting” and the next day we proclaimed the perfect sweetness to be somewhere between 15 and 16% sugar syrup.
We had 7 bottles of gin (named batched 1-7) and sweetened each individually and tasted each individually to get the perfect sweetness. The tasting did have some effects…
When bottling them up for presents (into new shiny bottles with corks we bought on amazon) we mixed the batches together, but kept the ratios different, so each bottle will have a unique taste and sweetness.
Present Receivers: If you would like to make your sloe gin sweeter then just mix 1 part sugar to 1 part water and heat gently, add a little of this syrup to your sloe gin and bob’s your uncle! But be careful, it’s easy to make it too sweet!!!
The final product was ready!
Now to make the labels to decorate them!
So the only thing left to do now is enjoy! MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; the best of life is but intoxication.
– Lord Byron