How to make delicious sloe gin from scratch

Sloe gin is an all-natural flavoured gin and it’s really easy to make it from home. Here, a master distiller shares her on how to do it.

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Gin might be something you associate with the summer months, sipping a refreshing gin and tonic to cool you down on a hot day or experimenting with flavoured gins at home. But gin is a spirit that is perfect for every season and there are so many ways you can tailor it to perfectly suit the colder months.

As the weather cools down, one of the most popular seasonal varieties of gin is sloe gin, a liqueur which is made by infusing wild sloe berries in gin. It’s warming and filled with festive flavours like marzipan and licorice. 

It’s also really easy to make at home. It takes a little bit of preparation, as the best sloe gin is made from foraged sloe berries. You can pick them yourself from late September right the way through winter. Sloe gin also requires a few weeks of brewing time, or even longer if you’re looking for a stronger flavour, so September really isn’t too early to be thinking about Christmas when it comes to this winter drink.

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“Sloe gin is the original flavoured gin and it’s made with completely natural flavourings,” says Joanne Moore, master distiller at BLOOM Gin and the first female master distiller in the world. “It only requires a few ingredients but foraging the berries and leaving them to brew is a lovely autumn activity and homemade sloe gin also makes a great gift.”

Here is Joanne’s guide to making delicious sloe gin, including her expert tips and beginner’s mistakes to avoid.

What you will need to make sloe gin

Makes 1.5 litres.

  • 1 litre good quality gin 
  • 150-250g sugar of your choice
  • A large handful of sloe berries
  • A 2 litre glass bottle
  • Muslin cloth/filter paper for draining

How to make sloe gin

  1. Rinse and pat down your sloe berries. Either freeze them or individually prick each berry with a pin to prepare for the distilling process.
  2. Fill your bottle a third of the way up with berries, followed by your gin.
  3. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place and shake it every day or other day for 1-2 weeks. After that, shake once a week. You can leave it for up to a year depending on how strong you want it to taste. Most sloe gins are left for about three months, however you can leave it for periods as short as 10 weeks. Smell it and take a look at the colour to keep track of its progress.
  4. Filter your gin through paper filters or using an old muslin cloth.
  5. Add your sugar and mix it in until it dissolves.
  6. Your gin is now ready to drink. The alcohol content and sugar makes the drink self-preserving, so you can store in a cupboard for as long as you like

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Joanne’s expert tips for making sloe gin

Sip, don’t mix

Having spent a fairly long time waiting for your sloe gin to be ready, Joanne recommends that you drink it straight, sipping it from a small glass, rather than mixing it with any other drinks. “If you’ve put the time and effort into making your sloe gin, you want to taste the full extent of the flavour,” she says.

Joanne adds that sloe gin is often drank in the summer too, as people make it into a punch, so if you don’t end up drinking it all over the winter, this is a good way to revitalis it.

Keep your sloe gin at room temperature

“Sloe gin has a warming quality so I don’t like to put mine in the fridge. I much prefer to drink it at room temperature,” Joanne says. The only reason you may want to put it into the fridge is if you do decide to add it to a cocktail or mix it.

Use your berries to make jam

Instead of binning the sloe berries when you have filtered the liquid, Joanne suggests saving them to make jam. “Having sloe gin and sloe berry jam in your cupboard is lovely over Christmas and they also make a great gift together,” she says.

You can find more expert guides and tips on The Curiosity Academy’s Instagram page.

  • Joanne Moore, master distiller at Bloom Gin

    Joanne is the first female master distiller in the world.

    Joanne is one of the world’s leading Master Distillers, creating gins at BLOOM’s UK distillery in Warrington. BLOOM’s signature gin, BLOOM London Dry, is available in all major retailers.

Images: Getty, BLOOM Gin

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