A guide to making Sloe Gin

Whilst the majority of the articles on this blog are geared towards making beer, I have a special place in my heart for Gin Infusions. As each summer season draws to a close here in the UK, many people forage for Sloe berries to make this wonderful infusion. I was lucky enough to be given a bag full of them by a friend. The berries have been lying in my freezer for a few months, but with the sun shining in full effect this weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to make some Sloe Gin! The Sloe Gin will also be ready in time for Christmas, which makes great presents for the family.

Getting started

Making Sloe Gin is a lot easier than you might think. Other than a few ingredients you just need a little bit of patience.

Sloe Gin Ingredients

In this article, I'll run through a basic recipe that will create around 5 litres of Sloe Gin.

Ingredients

Name Amount
Cheap Gin 2 litres
Sloe Berries 2 Kg
Caster Sugar 1 Kg

In order to get started making Sloe Gin you will need Gin, Sloe berries and a lot of caster sugar. The key here is to also use cheap Gin as the recipe is flavoured with a lot of sugar and berries which will mask the taste of any decent gin.

Gin

In terms of storage, I had a 1 gallon demijohn lying around that I originally used from a Brooklyn Brewshop kit that was perfect for this recipe.

Carboy Demijohn

If you don't have one of these available, you could buy a super simple plastic version like this one from the-home-brew-shop.co.uk or something a little fancier from masterofmalt.com that you could always impress your friends with at the same time.

For the Sloe's themselves, I was lucky enough to be given these beauties from a friend. When it comes to extracting the goodness from the berries, some people like to prick each one with a needle. However, if you are lazy like me, another option is to freeze them and then add them straight to the demijohn or bash them a little.

Sloe Berries Frozen Bag

Sloe Berries Frozen

If you'd like to learn more about how and where to pick Sloe berries for yourself, the Woodland Trust has written a great article about it. On the other hand, if you are feeling a little lazy and prefer the online option, it seems there is a site here in the UK that sells berries. I've not used them before, so I have no idea of their quality.

The next step in the process is simply adding the frozen berries to your carboy.

Sloe Berries in Demijohn

Once all of the berries have been added, add the sugar and top the whole thing up with your Gin and give it a good shake.

Sloe Gin

Once the sugar had dissolved and cleared a little it looked a little like the image below.

Sloe Gin

That's it! I've stored the bottle in a dark cupboard and I'll check in on it every other day for a while and give it a good shake to get the flavours mixing. You might also notice that I've covered the top of the demijohn with tin foil - the seal doesn't need to be perfect as we aren't fermenting, but rather infusing the berries.

After about 6 months, I'll strain through a muslin cloth and decant to smaller bottles to give away as gifts. I might save a cheeky little bit for myself too 😊