What Is Sloe Gin & Perfect Recipes To Enjoy

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If you have found yourself here by googling “what is sloe gin” then you have come to the right place and believe it or not, sloe gin, isn’t gin at all.

Sloe gin is a red liqueur made by steeping sloe berries in gin with sugar. Sloe berries are small, tart fruits that are related to the plum. The berries are traditionally harvested after the first frost, which helps to soften their bitterness. The gin is infused with the berries for several months, allowing the flavour and colour of the berries to infuse into the alcohol. Sugar is added to sweeten the resulting liqueur.

Sloe gin has a deep red colour and a sweet-tart flavour reminiscent of berries with a hint of almond. It is often enjoyed as a sipping liqueur or a key ingredient in various cocktails. Sip on it neat, mix it with tonic water or champagne, or use it in cocktails like sloe gin fizz or sloe gin and tonic. Sloe gin is a popular and versatile spirit that adds a unique fruity twist to drinks.

Where does the sloe berry come from?

Sloe Berries grow on the blackthorn tree (or Prunus spinosa) which is common in woodland up and down Great Britain. They can be picked all year round and are not just used in sloe gin, they can also be used in things such as jam and jelly.

Wild sloe berries can be quite tart as it is a wild plum, so are often a little too sour to eat on their own.

Sloe gin production dates back to the 19th century in the United Kingdom. It is believed in the early 1900s to have originated in rural areas of the United Kingdom, where sloe berries are abundant in the hedgerows. Although they are sharp and tart when fresh they can be transformed into a delicious liqueur when infused with gin and sugar.

In the past, sloe gin was often made by country folk in rural communities as a way to preserve the berries and enjoy a flavorful drink during the winter months. The process involved picking sloe berries after the first frost (which helps to soften them), pricking or freezing the berries to break the skin, then steeping them in gin and sugar to extract the flavour.

Over time, the popularity of sloe gin grew beyond homemade batches, leading to commercial production by distilleries and spirits companies. Today, there are many brands that produce sloe gin, each with its own unique recipe and production methods.

Sloe gin has evolved from a homemade remedy to a popular liqueur enjoyed around the world. It is commonly used in cocktails or sipped on its own as a digestif. Its sweet and fruity flavour profile has made it a favourite ingredient in a variety of drinks, especially during the colder months.

Overall, the history of sloe gin production demonstrates a rich tradition of utilizing local ingredients to create a flavorful and distinctive spirit that continues to be cherished by many today.

What Is Sloe Gin & Perfect Recipes To Enjoy

What is the difference between gin and sloe gin?

Gin and sloe gin are both alcoholic beverages, but they have some key differences:

  1. Base Spirit: Gin is a distilled spirit that is primarily made from juniper berries and other botanicals infused with a neutral spirit. Sloe gin, on the other hand, starts with gin as the base spirit and is then infused with sloe berries (a type of fruit related to plums) and sugar, giving it a sweeter taste.
  2. Flavour Profile: Gin has a distinctive botanical and juniper-forward flavour profile, which can vary depending on the specific botanicals used in the distillation process. Sloe gin has a fruitier and sweeter taste due to the addition of sloe berries and sugar.
  3. Colour: Gin is clear or transparent in colour, while sloe gin has a reddish or purple hue, which comes from the sloe berries used in the infusion process.
  4. Alcohol Content: Gin typically has a higher alcohol content, usually around 40-50% ABV (alcohol by volume), whereas sloe gin tends to have a lower alcohol content, often around 15-30% ABV.
  5. Usage: Gin is commonly used as a base spirit in cocktails such as martinis, gin and tonics, and negronis. Sloe gin is often consumed on its own as a liqueur or used in cocktails that call for its unique sweet and fruity flavour.

Overall, while gin is a classic botanical spirit with a range of flavours and uses in cocktails, sloe gin offers a sweeter, fruitier alternative that stands out for its distinct taste and colour.

Popular brands of sloe gin

If you are in the market to get yourself some sloe gin, there are a wide range of brands on the market in the UK here are some of the best sloe gins in the UK.

Plymouth Gin – They have their own Plymouth Sloe Gin which is made using sloe fruit from the Devonshire hedgerows and a pleasant herbal blend.

Gordon’s Sloe Gin – This bottle is a balance between dry gin and sweet sloe berries. Perfect for mixing into cocktails or maybe as an alternative in your next G&T.

Warner’s Distillery Sloe Gin – This fruity liqueur is a popular choice, whether you are having it near or even mixed with prosecco.

Of course, if you want to give it a go creating your own sloe gin, you can do this too as there are plenty of recipes on the internet to try it at home. We have never given it a try but my grandad used to brew his own wine in his shed down the garden many years ago. Though it was so strong I am sure it could have been used to strip wallpaper!

If you are itching to give it a go, make sure you are using sweet fruits from blackthorn bushes and I would recommend following a traditional recipe whilst giving it a go.

As we have said previously, sloe gin can be enjoyed as a replacement for traditional gin in a G&T or can be used in a number of cocktails. Here are some popular sloe gin recipes for you to try out.

Best Sloe Gin Cocktails

If none of these take your fancy and you have a bottle of sloe gin to create your own drink, why not step away from the classic cocktails and try some of these great mixers:

  • Lemonade
  • Vodka
  • Prosecco
  • Sugar syrup
  • Cranberry juice
  • Brandy
  • Tonic
  • Soda Water
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Limoncello

Garnishes are just as important as the mixers and there are some great ones to add in to your cocktail, they can include:

  • Orange twist
  • Lemon slice
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Mint leaves
  • Ice, lots of ice!
  • Sour cherry

I would love to hear if you are fan of sloe gin and if you are how you take your tipple. Pop a comment in the box below and share with our readers what your preference is. What is the best way to enjoy it?

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this great post on 7 top screwball whiskey recipes.

What Is Sloe Gin & Perfect Recipes To Enjoy

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