How to Make Sloe gin

Picture of How to Make Sloe gin
How to make Suffolk sloe gin
Intro: This is an old country recipe from Suffolk, England. It was handed down from my neighbour's great aunt, who lived on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. It's not really a recipe, more just a loose set of instructions. The nice thing about sloe gin is that it lends itself to improvisation; because everyone in the countryside seems to know how to make it, everyone tends to make it a little differently. It's useful to have some basic guidelines to start with though, before one starts improvising.
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Step 1:

Step 1. Materials and Equipment
This recipe is enough for two bottles of sloe gin

Gin: one litre
Sloes: (more on that in the next step)
Sugar: approximately 300 grams (more on that as well)

Container for collecting sloes (we used plastic bags and got juice all over us. I would recommend a plastic Tupperware or something similar)
Large needle or small fork or anything that you can pierce with
Wine glass
Empty bottle

Step 2:

Picture of
Step 2. Stare at this picture for a moment, to confirm your sloe identification skills. Sloes are the berries of the blackthorn bush, which is a common bush which grow in hedgerows in England. (Hedgerows are sort of like wild hedges that grow on country paths in England; they're not exactly wild cause someone planted them but some of them are over 700 years old. So they seem sort of wild, or at least really old.) Sloes are blue and round, and larger than blueberries. They taste fairly nasty on their own.
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geckosb160110 months ago
we add 1lb of sloe to 1l of gin and 6oz of sugar. Freezing does mean you don't have to prick them (or your fingers repeatedly). 2 months is more than enough time to soak, but once decanted out improves with age. We also have a recipe for venison with gin soaked sloes!

try it with blue berries makes big diffrence :-)

Im just about to make my second batch of sloe gin,but noticed in sainsburys that you can now buy sloe gin already made.much easier option.

try it with blueberries realy brings the flavour out of them use less sugger though

Here's nother good step by step easy way to make sloe gin with some suggestions about what you can do with the boozey sloes.
gthrelfall3 years ago
Thank you for these instructions. I love the way they're written, gave me a few laughs!
JohnEvans3 years ago
Some of methods shown are good BUT BUT - the REAL method involves pouring half of the gin down the loo or giving it to a neady friend -- or to me. Next it is ESSENTIAL to prick the sloes either with a silver needle or with a thorn taken from the same bush as the sloes you have gathered. Nothing else will produce satisfactory results. Try your own methods first if you wish but the results will be second rate. You can then save face by sending the resultant mis-hits to me for correction. I drink a lot of this stuff and I KNOW.
hans13 years ago
Once you've made your sloe gin and decanted it, don't throw the sloes away, just add a pint of cream sherry to the sloes. leave for a few months ( the longer the better)and then decant and enjoy the fruits of your Hard!! labour.
samand3 years ago
Hi Just made my first sloe gin
its handy for me as i am a volunteer in a new planted woodland(5 years) so there are several blackthorn bushes,so handy

Picked a coffee jar full of sloes washed and cleaned them
Bought a 1 ltr gordons gin
Halved it into another bottle
Put in150 gms sugar in each
I pinch (squeeze) the sloes before putting inthe bottle
And thats it
I don't drink
but i will have lots of friends by christmas
Thisgirl4 years ago
For even better results you could tap each sloe with a small hammer whilst frozen but this slightly increases the finger hurty risk.
ive just learned how to make sloe gin but didnt realise I had to defrost the berries before pricking them!!!! wow frostbitten fingers..I added 4 ozs sugar to half a bottle of gin(all I had in the cupbpoard) I tasted some of a friends and wow just a tiny amount realy warms the cockles and it did my cough a power of good...
lilybet4 years ago
Or bake them into a very boozy pie :)
lilybet4 years ago
There is an easier way to do this step to save your fingers; if you bag up your sloes in freezer bags and freeze them overnight they will burst because the water expands inside them - then you just let them defrost in your bottle/demijohn thing and add the gin and sugar - works the same but takes less finger hurty stabby effort.
lilybet4 years ago
We make plum gin every year - and damson gin - but have just moved house and have a sloe bush so now we're adding to our collection :) plum gin is delicious, sweeter than either sloe or damson gin.
ax895 years ago
I have learned some new things today - I had no idea that there was a type of berry called a 'sloe' or that there was actually a delightful sounding beverage called sloe gin. I am aware of a font called "sloe gin rickey" - is that a beverage too??
Gill Lyden ax894 years ago
I am making damson gin - I made it 2 years ago exactly the same way as sloe gin - but I have lost the recipe! I have a pound of damsons in a bowl, with a pound of sugar (that's the amount of sugar my original recipe used). The unexpected damsons were picked yesterday (did not see any blossom this year, but saw damsons which had fallen!).There were far less damsons than previous years, but twice the size and not very visible until I went up the ladder. I have 4and a half pounds placed in plastic jars from bottled fruit bought in the supermarket,. I put them in a jar on the windowledge in the sun, as some were not quite ripe. Today one jar was full of juice, so I am having to make some gin quite quickly. I've put the rest in the freezer for later attention. Do I need a litre of gin for this amount of damsons? Please reply urgently if possible! Gill
gong555 years ago
And there's life in those sloes yet!  When they've done in the gin and you've taken them out, cover these gin-soaked sloes in sherry (fairly sweet is fine, but it depends on what you like) in a sealed container and leave for a week or two, shaking occasionally if you can remember.  It won't get the richness and colour of a good sloe gin, but it perks up a cheap sherry...
PKM5 years ago
Someone needs to think up a cocktail involving this that you can set on fire, just so you can call it a "Sloe burner". Or maybe a "sloe comfortable (censored)"... If you follow this Instructable, don't be tempted to eat raw sloes. They have the magical ability to suck all of the water out of your mouth and replace it with a very strange, bitter, powdery sensation. There's an entire glass of sugar for a reason.
littletom34 PKM5 years ago
There really is a drink called a "Sloe Comfort-able Screw" which is a variant of the classic screwdriver. It's made with sloe gin, Southern Comfort and orange juice.
PKM littletom345 years ago
I... wow. The levels of punning in that name are turning my brain inside out. Also, it sounds delicious.
littletom345 years ago
I never knew that sloe gin was really made with gin. Ya learn somethin' new every day, if you're not careful. Your method works with any fruit/alcohol combination. Vodka works best if you want the flavor of the fruit to be the main focus. Everclear gives you a really "potent potable" as they say on Jeopardy. x)
djbarista5 years ago
use dragon fruit
jello6665 years ago
I did something similar this fall with crabapples and rose petals using mason jars instead of water bottles. It turned out quite well.
gr8gran645 years ago
Can you only get Sloe's in England?? Dumb question probably.....I don't know if we have them here in the States...
jongscx5 years ago
...I have no idea what sloes are... can we just use blueberries instead?
susie5 years ago
Awesome to know in case they bring back prohibition with the depression! Isn't gin made with juniper berries? Those are plentiful, in California anyway.
jongscx susie5 years ago
...this is just a way of flavoring the gin... You'd still need to get gin to make this...
bustedit5 years ago
but what do you do if there's a bustle in the hedgerow? need I be alarmed?
naw, that's usually just a spring clean for the may queen:)
heh, heh, good ol zep. nice instructable, too. very easy, cept for the waiting. I assume this could be adapted to any berry? i know that liqour containing sugar can give a nasty hangover, will this if taken in excess??
faraway (author)  bustedit5 years ago
it probably could be adapted to most berries, I would think, although the fact that people having been making sloe gin in the countryside for a long time does kind of make you wonder...i mean, you never hear about plum gin or raspberry gin, for example. but it's worth trying it out. As for the hangover, drinking a lot of sloe gin reminds me of taking Nyquil (or Night Nurse in the UK)...kind of groggy but not in a bad way. but I suppose it depends on how excessive is excess :)
AndyGadget5 years ago
AARGH! I hate it when that happens.
I was getting all geared up to do a sloe gin instructable, and you beat me to it! All I'm missing is the sloes and I'm planning on sloe hunting this weekend (although my usual favourite places have had a very poor crop this year).
Nice work though, I think you've covered everything, and I'd second your comments about the sugar. Many of the recipes use way too much (for my taste) and you end up with a very sickly end product. I think you've got it about right.
I usually make sloe gin in demijohns, and had a three-john-year last year, so drinking plenty this winter. It changes and improves with age, and develops a taste similar to a tawny port after a couple of years - if you can keep it that long. We finished off our three-year-old sloe gin a couple of weeks ago.
I've never heard of a sloe before today, but this is really interesting. I don't really drink, but I think the things people do with alcohol are amazing. :D
faraway (author)  jessyratfink5 years ago
yeah, it is kind of weird. i had always thought sloe gin was spelled 'slow gin' and i thought it was some kind of process for making gin (not that i had ever really thought about it that much). when i moved to the country and people talked about picking sloes for gin, i just had to try it out. it's much nicer than it sounds - beautiful color, really easy to drink and very strong.
Yeah, I love the color!

I'm still really curious about this whole fruit/berries + alcohol thing. I think the closest I'll get here in Kentucky is the cranberry infused vodka!
sonic_dan5 years ago
An easier method than pricking them all is to just put the sloes in a bag and put them in the freezer. This splits the skins - this is the way I've always done it and i've never had a problem! Just put the frozen sloes into your gin mixture and they'll thaw out. Another reason this is great is if you pick too many sloes (this inevitably happens), just keep them in the freezer, and you can use them whenever you want, without the need to prick them. I make sloe vodka in a similar way. I just pour the vodka out of the bottle (70cl bottle) into a jug, and fill the empty bottle roughly 1/3 full of sloes, add sugar until the bottle is about half full, and then pour the vodka back in - as much of it as you can. Then I just shake it every week, or whenever I remember to. This results in a really sweet sloe vodka that is great in the summer with lots of ice and lemonade, in a jug. I have a bottle that is nearly 2 years old that I haven't got round to yet! Nice instructable. 5 stars :)
faraway (author)  sonic_dan5 years ago
the freezer bit is a very good idea. pricking the sloes is a pain after the first five minutes of novelty has worn off. plus it gives you time to get more gin or vodka if you've picked too many sloes. we almost ended up making sloe cognac (possibly interesting) and sloe Baileys (truly disgusting) before we found a forgotten bottle of vodka...
chrisreeve5 years ago
In Surrey, the done thing is to add the sugar to your own personal taste after about two months.
faraway (author)  chrisreeve5 years ago
that makes sense...
code_e5 years ago
I suspect a completely acceptable version of this could be made using Chokecherry fruit, Prunus virginiana, by us yanks that don't have access to sloe berries. Chokecherries are a wild shrub in the same genus that is popular for making things like preserves, jelly, pies, etc.. They also share the characteristic of being horribly astringent when raw (hence the name), but make a superb cooked product.
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