Rich, warming and slightly spicy sloe gin is, for me, the quintessential festive tipple. It is also the perfect beverage to have in your cabinet at this time of year; a highly versatile drink that can add Christmas cheer to any number of cocktails but is also deliciously comforting, and still rather special, served neat. I love making (and serving) my own sloe gin but it does require a little organisation and a lot of patience. And, although there are ways to improve the standard of your homemade sloe gin, there’s no guarantee of quality or consistency. If it’s quality you want, where better to go than to Sipsmith where the craft gin renaissance began, and where I also happened to begin my own gin journey.
As the nights draw in and the temperatures begin to drop, the promise of picking sloes from the hedgerows to transform into a deep mid-winter treat can set the spirits soaring. The first thing you’ll have to do, though, is find a Blackthorn tree – and if you’re not confident, please do some research. You really don’t want to end up with Deadly Nightshade gin by mistake! I picked mine in deepest, darkest Dorset with all the family, kids and dogs in tow (there’s nothing quite like a bit of child labour after all!), but if you can’t find them in the wild you should be able to pick them up at a market or even online.