Home > Food Projects > Make Your Own Sloe Gin

Make Your Own Sloe Gin

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 12 Feb 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Sloe Gin Ferment Gin Sugar Bottle Caster

If you’re a ‘sloe gin virgin’, you might be surprised to learn that this oft-home brewed beverage tastes nothing like ‘straight’ gin at all. In fact, it makes for a rounded, fruity refreshing drink – just the thing to help ease yourself into a evening of relaxation!

Sourcing Sloes

Sloes are the fruits of the blackthorn bush, and are readily available during late autumn in the wild. Check local woodlands and hedgerows around October and November for the small, plum-like fruits. But make sure you firstly check with any landowners before you start picking - and when you do, never take more than ten per cent of the fruit crop!

Sloes can also easily be grown at home. The plants themselves are fairly fast growing, and the good news is that a bare root plant can be bought for a very good price indeed.

Your Recipe

The process of making sloe gin is delightfully simple; however, as with many British food and drink ‘staples’, the recipe itself may vary from region to region. As you’d expect, the amount of sugar you use in the recipe will affect the final outcome. The recipe provided here is a simple take on a Suffolk recipe – but it may prove too sweet or too sour, depending on your preferences.

So if this is your first time making sloe gin, it might be worth your while making several different batches with varying amounts of sugar. That way, you’ll be able to select the recipe that best suits your own taste.

As a guideline, it’s suggested that you should use 150g sugar per bottle of gin. But why not try making additional batches that use up to 300g sugar, to see whether you have a particular preference for something a bit sweeter?

Equipment

You don’t need much ‘equipment’ to make sloe gin, as the process is fairly simple. As long as you have...

  • a bottle or decanter (with a lid)
  • a fork

… you’ll be fine!

The good news is that the ingredients you need are minimal too. For one bottle of sloe gin you’ll need:

  • Half a litre of gin
  • Enough sloes to fill half a litre bottle
  • Around 150g of caster sugar.

Method

Firstly, you’ll need to source your bottle. This can be a recycled empty plastic drinks bottle (which you may wish to sterilise first, if preferred), or a glass bottle or decanter. Either way, you must make sure that whatever vessel you choose is airtight, and the neck is large enough to push a sloe through!

You’ll then need to prick each individual sloe several times; this can be done with a cocktail stick or fork. This is a necessary but messy job, as it allows the juices to permeate the tough skin of the sloes. As you prick each sloe, pop them into your empty bottle. Once all the sloes have been inserted into the bottle, you can then add your half litre of gin and caster sugar to start the fermenting process.

Next Steps

Once you’ve sealed the bottle, you’ll need to shake the contents thoroughly. The bottle will need shaking about once every other day for a week or so; thereafter it’ll only need a good shake once a week for a couple of months. You should also make sure that you store your fermenting sloe gin in a cool, dark cupboard, away from any temperature fluctuations or direct sunlight.

After a couple of months, your sloe gin should be ready for drinking. There are two options here; you can either decant the sloe gin from its original bottle into a fresh bottle, or leave the fruit in your original bottle. But do bear in mind that if you choose the latter, you only have around six months’ grace - any longer the fermented sloes will spoil.

One last point to consider is that if picked in season and used in good time, wild sloe gin should be ready just in time for Christmas, making it a perfect gift for friends and family alike!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
AnneN - Your Question:
I made some sloe gin last year and have left the sloes in for over a year. They look fine, it's a good colour and tastes good. Will it be ok to drink?

Our Response:
We usually recommend 6 months, some people leave them longer, but normally 12 months is your limit really. Take a look at this interesting piece by Stuart Cantrill a chemist!
MakingYourOwn - 14-Feb-17 @ 10:55 AM
I made some sloe gin last year and have left the sloes in for over a year.They look fine, it's a good colour and tastes good. Will it be ok to drink?
AnneN - 12-Feb-17 @ 9:34 PM
Hi I am making my first damson gin batch and was wondering if I can open the jar to stir the sugar that is at the bottom? It has only been fermenting for the last 2 weeks, or will the sugar desolate in time? Many thanks
Miranda - 30-Sep-16 @ 1:30 PM
Hi! I have recently discovered two bottles with gin and sloe berries in that have accidentally been stewing for about 2.5 years! I've just decanted the gin, it's got a nice taste, but rather draws the mouth in in a sour way. Do you know of any way I can remedy this and make it drinkable?! Thanks :)
Sarah - 22-Mar-16 @ 7:30 PM
I give a litre bottle of gin/vodka to my nan every Christmas - and she makes the stuff! - I mean, she goes out and picks the sloes and at Christmas we pick-it-up. The vodka (I gave her vodka this Christmas) came back a lovely red colour and it was a delight to drink (straight, with a few ice cubes!). However, why do I not get drunk drinking 1/2 pint sloe vodka - when I would clearly be 'spannered' drinking a 1/2 pint of normal untouched vodka? Is my nan holding back on the vodka I am supplying her? - or is there another explanation/reason for this? Answers please :)
JL - 24-Jan-16 @ 8:37 PM
AnnFee - Your Question:
I have made my first ever batches of sloe gin and sloe vodka. I am worried that there doesn't seem to be much colour yet and wondered if just freezing was enough or whether I should also have pricked them. Also - on one of the batches, I put them in the gin while they were still frozen. Should I take them out and prick them or just leave them?Advice please?

Our Response:
Yes to get the full flavour and colour of the sloe, you should prick it. Frozen sloes should be crushed lightly with a rolling pin or similar before adding.
MakingYourOwn - 21-Sep-15 @ 12:33 PM
I have made my first ever batches of sloe gin and sloe vodka. I am worried that there doesn't seem to be much colour yet and wondered if just freezing was enough or whether I should also have pricked them. Also - on one of the batches, I put them in the gin while they were still frozen.Should I take them out and prick them or just leave them? Advice please?
AnnFee - 20-Sep-15 @ 2:02 PM
Armchairbob- Your Question:
Hi, I'm looking for advice. I started a sloe gin batch off with just tge sugar and sloes. Never got round to adding the gin though. It's still in the jar, sealed and in the dark. There's no mould or any thing. It's a lovely colour and want to know if it's safe to add gin to it or throw away?

Our Response:
We really don't know for sure, but think it probably can't do any harm. Try looking around for at various forums, there is bound to be a wealth of knowledge from sloe gin makers. Once thing that we were told when researching this article was not to put the sugar in at the beginning as most people do; the reason is that sugar prevents the gin from pulling out the natural sugars of the fruit as it's already saturated with sugar.
MakingYourOwn - 17-Aug-15 @ 12:59 PM
Hi, I'm looking for advice. I started a sloe gin batch off with just tge sugar and sloes. Never got round to adding the gin though. It's still in the jar, sealed and in the dark. There's no mould or any thing. It's a lovely colour and want to know if it's safe to add gin to it or throw away?
Armchairbob - 16-Aug-15 @ 11:13 PM
@Bee - did you get to the bottom of this?I have the same and haven't been able to find an answer anywhere
Dan - 7-Oct-14 @ 2:01 PM
No need to prick them, freeze them for a couple if days does the same job as pricking them.
Porpoise - 4-Oct-14 @ 10:22 PM
@Bee. We're not sure on this one! Chances are the alcohol will have killed any potential nasties but we may be wrong. We will continue to look for an answer...do any other readers know? Post her if so :-)
MakingYourOwn - 23-Sep-14 @ 9:45 AM
I have just made sloe gin ( one week ago). Went to roll the demi John and can see what looks like a small white worm floating at top. Is entire batch ruined? Can I just try to remove it ?
Bee - 19-Sep-14 @ 9:03 PM
I have been making sloe gin for years in the same traditional manner and bottled and drunk it without problem. However, I noticed the other day that this years batch, which had been filtered and bottled, has a white fluffy sediment/growth at the bottom of each bottle. Please could you advise me what this might be and what action I should take. Thanks
Ali - 14-May-14 @ 11:12 AM
hi, could you please tell me if i can use any other berrys? do they have to be firm or can i use soft berrys ie blackberry,blackcurrant. thanks
1st timer - 17-Feb-14 @ 11:48 AM
Now Rectified the spelling mistakes here goes again I have made Sloe Gin for over 12 years to my local farmers great great Garandmothers recipe ie Victorian! Which includes adding a cap full of Brandy after 1 month and half a cap full of Amaretto , Sloe are basically a small bitter plum and with both Sloe and Almond being part of the Prunus family meansthey workgreat together in the bottle ,some of my Gins are now 10 years old and have turned completely Amber with age, they also have a completely different taste being extremely silky smooth and with a plummy almond tasteunlike young Gin . I also leave the Sloes in the Bottle for a year as written in the Victorian Recipe I useand not once have they spoiled ,what this process does is allow the alcohol to extract the almond flavour from the Sloe Kernel which tastes rather similar to an almond! being basically the same thing of course ! Hope this very old Country farmers wife recipehelps
Old English Bullace - 2-Jan-14 @ 7:26 PM
I have made Sloe Gin for over 12 years to my local farmers great great Garandmothers recipe ie Victorian! Which includes adding a cap full of Brandy after 1 month and half a cap full of Amaretto , Sloe are basically a small bitter plum and both with both Sloe and Slmond being part of the Prunus family meansthey workgreat together in the bottle ,some of my Gins are now 10 years old and have turned completely Amber with age, they also have a completely different taste being extremely silky smooth and with a plummy almond tasteunlike young Gin . Also I also leave the Sloes in the Bottle for a year as written in the Victorian Recipe I useand not once have they spoiled , but what this process does is allow the alcohol to extract the almond flavour from the Sloe Kernel which tastes rather similar to an almond being basically the same thing of course ! Hope this very old Country farmers wife recipehelps
Old English Bullace - 2-Jan-14 @ 7:17 PM
I am making this tomorrow. It is the firs time I have ever made it.I can not stand the smell or taste of gin, but I do like it,with elderflower cordial, so I was told that I should like sloe gin.
chicchick - 7-Oct-13 @ 11:23 PM
I have used this recipe also and after the sloe,s have been fermented ans strained i used the sloe,s (un piped) and melted them with chocolate. Great for christmas day after noon snacks P.S. don,t let the children have some)
Peter Christmas - 25-Sep-13 @ 9:08 PM
Far quicker and easier than pricking the Sloes with a fork (which itself is even easier than the traditional pricking of the Sloes with a thorn from the bush) is to snip each Sloe with a pair of scissors.Just snip the skin with the tips of the scissors once or twice, don't try to cut the fruit in half. Also traditional is that the Sloes are gathered after the first frost; I think this helps with the release of the flavour/juices from the Sloes as the ice crystals break down the cell walls. This can be duplicated by popping the gathered sloes in the freezer for a while on trays or loose; if they've been snipped/pricked first, then this can be used to accumulate enough for a batch if you can only get a few handfuls at a time.Don't freeze them solid unless you've pricked/snipped them first or that becomes a very messy job wasting a lot of juice. Note that when the Sloes are ripe, they have a waxy bloom over the purple colour of the fruit.I leave the Sloes steeping in the gin for longer than suggested here, often a year or more, and especially if I am going for a 'second run', steeping the Sloes for a second time.Also, I have read that it is possible to make jam with the drained, used sloes, although I have not done this yet.
Nigel Parker - 18-Oct-12 @ 9:46 AM
Have used this recipe twice now, brilliant tasting Sloe Gin! Giving it as gifts this Christmas. Although i have added a little more sugar this time as i have a sweet tooth.
Mark Winyard - 11-Dec-11 @ 8:47 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the MakingYourOwn website. Please read our Disclaimer.