recipe: sloe gin

Gin is my drink but sloe gin is its much fruitier, more festive cousin and homemade sloe gin knocks stockings off shop bought. Making your own alcoholic drinks can sound complex but the benefit of sloe gin is that you start with gin as a base so all the distilling has already been done for you; your job is just to add flavour!

Granted you need to go and find yourself some blackthorn bushes to pick the sloe berries, but that is really the only significant bit of effort and I see it as a good excuse for a windy autumn walk. If in doubt you can always buy fresh sloe berries online and side step that whole part of the process.


(These can obviously be scaled up to suit your sloe haul)

  • 350g fresh sloe berries
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 500g gin (any mildly drinkable gin is fine; save the premium stuff for a g&t)


  • A large bottle or container with a relatively wide mouth. (Note if you want to reuse the bottle make sure it’s easy to remove the sloes at the end)
  • A small funnel (not essential but helpful)


  1. Wash the sloe berries and remove any leaves/stalks and dirt. Place them in a plastic bag in the freezer (this will open up the berry skins and saves you hand pricking each one.)
  2. Once the berries are frozen, combine all the ingredients in a large container/bottle.
  3. Shake to dissolve the sugar as much as you can.
  4. That’s it! Shake the bottle once a day for a month or so and otherwise leave the berries to infuse for at least 6 weeks, but the longer you leave it the better.
  5. Once your gin is ready, taste it for sweetness and add sugar if it is still a bit tart.
  6. Decant into your serving bottle and enjoy!

Don’t forget to keep hold of those sloes for a special treat that I will hopefully share in a few weeks time!

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