Making Sloe Gin

Quite simply, and sadly, gin is just not my drink and the recent gin resurgence and craze has largely passed me by. However, there is one exception to this, sloe gin which I do appreciate a little tipple or two of in the bleak winter months. 

You can spend a fair few quid buying a well packaged and branded sloe gin but I prefer making my own. Not only is it satisfying to do but you can also decant your finished gin into small bottles to make thoughtful gifts. 

I’ve never tried it myself but am told you can substitute the gin with whiskey. If thats your preference give it a try. For now, though, I’ll stick with gin and apologies if I only refer to that in this article.

You will need…

1 litre gin (I buy as cheap/best value as possible)

500g sloes (First timer foragers may want to read this linked article)

250g caster sugar

A large secure jar or wide necked large bottle. 

The jar, or bottle, is for combining and steeping the ingredients over the course of at least two months. Clip top jars are ideal as are thoroughly washed plastic milk bottles. Whatever you use make sure its clean, odour free and sterilised before using.


1. Pick the sloes, rinse them and pick out any leaves, twigs or critters. Tie the sloes in a plastic bag and freeze them, try to do this as soon after picking as possible.

2. When your ready to make the gin, defrost the sloes in the bag. Squish them and mash them (still in the tied plastic) then snip off one corner to make a piping bag. Squeeze the sloes out into the jar. 

Please note: I am still working my way through a bulk buy of bags purchased years ago as a smallholder. If you want to be plastic free then I see no reason why you could not freeze loose, or in a container, and then mash once defrosted.  

The sloes may well look like a horror movie prop at this point but don’t panic! This replicates the effects of frost and saves you having to pierce each individual sloe. You will see the gin become infused with the sloe fruit as soon as you mix it. 

3. Add the sugar, then the gin. Mix the ingredients well to combine them. 

Place in a cool, dark cupboard where they won’t be forgotten – you have a little daily work to do for the next seven days! 

4. Shake the contents every day for the first week to ensure the sugar, sloes and gin are thoroughly mixed and being absorbed. Then leave for a minimum of two, and maximum of three, months. 

5. Strain the gin through a muslin lined sieve and decant into clean, sterilised bottles. The leftover boozy fruit can be used in some recipes, details coming soon. 

Some say you should leave the drink in bottles to improve over a year, but it can be enjoyed after bottling. It all depends on your personal taste and preference. As sure as ‘normal’ gin is not my drink, patience is not one of my virtues so I will be enjoying my first tipple on Christmas Day.

Good luck and let us know how you get on via social media!

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