Sloe gin is a red liqueur with gin and blackberries. It has an alcohol content of between 15 and 30 percent. In the EU, it has been decided that the minimum must be 25% alcohol. Funfact: In Denmark, it is a tradition to drink sloe gin with the rice cream on Christmas Eve.
Blackthorn or sloe is a fruit in the plum family, but verry small and rather sour relative. Sloe grow wild in hedges all over England, but even many Britons do not know what they are. The reason is simply that they taste awful – both bitter and stuffy. However, it was found that you can put them on alcohol together with a little sugar and let them soak. The result is a beverage that is good and round with a certain underlying austerity.
By the way in May 2021, the first Norwegian sloe gin arrived at Vinmonopolet: Bareksten Sloe Gin. You will find links to those we have discussed later in the article.
How Sloe Gin Is Made
The berries are picked when they are ripe. In the old days, people waited for the first night of frost, because the skin of the sloe berries is so tough that it is difficult to get the juice to mix with the spirit. Now it’s simple, you just freeze them for 24 hours for the skin to crack before you put them on alcohol. Alternatively, you can punch holes in the skin of all the berries. From time immemorial, this was done with the thorns from the bush on which they grow.
There are also purists here who believe that sloe gin can only contain blackberries and gin, but here it has also become more common to experiment. You can add cinnamon, vanilla or other flavors to shape the result as you like. It is also discussed what kind of alcohol should be used when making sloe gin – e.g. whether it holds with a cheap gin one found on the bottom shelf. Here the verdict is quite clear. When you make a sloppy gin, you need a gin with character, which has a strong backbone of junipers. A quality gin can work elegantly next to the sloe berries and give a good result.
As with other crops, each year’s production will be somewhat different due to weather, drought, and the environment. This is something that makes this type of gin reminiscent of wine. In fact, sloe berries also grow in Norway, along the coast around Oslo and in Sørlandet, and some other places.
How to Make Sloe Gin at Home
If you want to try making sloe gin at home, you can take a 2 liter clip top jar, take the berries out of the freezer and let them thaw before you have them in the jar. For 600 grams of berries you need about 300 grams of sugar and a bottle of gin. Then you will see if you are a purist and have not in anything else, or if you want to try it with some spice you like. Turn the glass a few times and leave it so you can see it, because it must be turned regularly. The whole process takes about 9-12 weeks.
How to Drink This Type of Gin?
In the past, sloe gin was seen as a warming autumn and winter drink, it was simply not drunk in the summer. Now there have been a lot of summer cocktails with citrus that make it much easier to look at this as a year-round drink. It can be mixed with some tonics as a variant of G&T. Also you can drink it with some ice, or drink it as a liqueur. Another brilliant combination is with prosecco or champagne.