Food and Drink

How to make delicious sloe gin from scratch, according to a master distiller

Forget mulled wine, sloe gin is the all-natural flavoured tipple you’ll want to be drinking this Christmas and it’s really easy to make it from home. We asked a master distiller how to brew the festive liquor at home.

Mulled wine might wear the crown when it comes to Christmas tipples, but nothing beats a glass of ruby-red sloe gin as the nights get frostier.

While a gin and tonic reigns supreme in the summer months, come winter the seasonal liqueur, made by infusing wild sloe berries in gin, is just the deep-flavoured, syrupy drink needed to warm the cockles.

Filled with festive flavours like marzipan and liquorice and with a tangy berry edge, it makes a brilliant cocktail ingredient – adding a zing to classic favourites. Or, add a dash of sparkling water and lemon juice to make a lip-smackingly special sloe gin fizz.

If you want to go the extra mile this Christmas, try making your very own sloe gin at home. You can even forage for sloe berries, which grow across the UK from late September right the way through winter. In just a few weeks of brewing time, you’ll have yourself a delicious liquor to pass around the Christmas table.  

You may also like

40 drinks that make perfect Christmas gifts – from natural wines to delicious sober spirits

“Sloe gin is the original flavoured gin and it’s made with completely natural flavourings,” says Joanne Moore, master distiller at BLOOM Gin and the first female master distiller in the world. “It only requires a few ingredients but foraging the berries and leaving them to brew is a lovely activity and homemade sloe gin also makes a great gift idea.”

Here is Joanne’s guide to making delicious sloe gin, including her expert tips and beginner’s mistakes to avoid.

What you’ll need to make sloe gin

Makes 1.5 litres.

  • 1 litre good quality gin 
  • 150-250g sugar of your choice
  • A large handful of sloe berries
  • A 2 litre glass bottle
  • Muslin cloth/filter paper for draining

How to make sloe gin

  1. Rinse and pat down your sloe berries. Either freeze them or individually prick each berry with a pin to prepare for the distilling process.
  2. Fill your bottle a third of the way up with berries, followed by your gin.
  3. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place and shake it every day or other day for 1-2 weeks. After that, shake once a week. You can leave it for up to a year depending on how strong you want it to taste. Most sloe gins are left for about three months, however you can leave it for periods as short as 10 weeks. Smell it and take a look at the colour to keep track of its progress.
  4. Filter your gin through paper filters or using an old muslin cloth.
  5. Add your sugar and mix it in until it dissolves.
  6. Your gin is now ready to drink. The alcohol content and sugar makes the drink self-preserving, so you can store in a cupboard for as long as you like

You may also like

How to make delicious, seasonal blackberry jam from scratch

Joanne’s expert tips for making sloe gin

Sip, don’t mix

Having spent a fairly long time waiting for your sloe gin to be ready, Joanne recommends that you drink it straight, sipping it from a small glass, rather than mixing it with any other drinks. “If you’ve put the time and effort into making your sloe gin, you want to taste the full extent of the flavour,” she says.

Joanne adds that sloe gin is often drank in the summer too, as people make it into a punch, so if you don’t end up drinking it all over the winter, this is a good way to revitalis it.

Keep your sloe gin at room temperature

“Sloe gin has a warming quality so I don’t like to put mine in the fridge. I much prefer to drink it at room temperature,” Joanne says. The only reason you may want to put it into the fridge is if you do decide to add it to a cocktail or mix it.

Use your berries to make jam

Instead of binning the sloe berries when you have filtered the liquid, Joanne suggests saving them to make jam. “Having sloe gin and sloe berry jam in your cupboard is lovely over Christmas and they also make a great gift together,” she says.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty