Let’s make winning sloe gin

Make award winning sloe gin

Sloe gin is a gorgeous tipple. Drink a tot on its own or add to a cocktail. Simply delicious.

Its latin name is prunus spinosa which might give you a clue to its spiky nature. Do go armed with gloves! Look for the blackberry bushes and if you’re lucky you’ll find the sloe bushes also known as blackthorn. They can grow up to 6 or 7 metres high and live for 100 years! But the ones round here are much smaller. The fruits are mostly similar in size to a blueberry although I did find some woppers this year.

There’s plenty of debate on when you should make the gin – many say after the first frost. This year, they are so ripe, I don’t think they will last that long as many berries were already falling off the tree.

Sloe Gin Recipe

Sloes with gin added and some orange peel for flavour

Severn Bites Sloe Gin

Danielle Ellis
This wonderful drink is made in two stages. First soaking the berries in gin for as long as possible, then secondly adding sugar. You'll need approximately half the weight of sloes in gin (eg 800 gr of sloes, 400 ml gin). Do use some decent gin. The better the gin, the better the sloe gin. You can make whatever quantity you like. 
Prep Time 30 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine British


  • 800 grams sloes
  • 400 grams gin


  • Step 1

    Rinse the sloes and put them in the freezer overnight to break the skins down.
    This year's crop of sloes
  • Just before you are ready to bottle, sterilise your jars. Wash and rinse your jars and put the wet jars in the oven at 140ºC, Gas Mark 1 for 15 minutes.
  • The next day, fill the jars with sloes and top up with gin. You can add a sliver of orange peel for extra flavour
    Place the sloes in the container, top up with gin and wait!
  • Store for 6-8 weeks. I am using the method used in Croatia to make fruit liqueurs and storing mine in the sun rather in a dark cupboard.
  • Step 2

    For this stage you need to make some sugar syrup so you can blend the mixture easily and more precisely than simply adding sugar and mixing. Get a large bowl and sieve ready and a saucepan for the syrup.
  • Mix 100 gr sugar (granulated or caster) and 50 ml water in a saucepan and heat slowly until the sugar is dissolved. Let this cool. This is sufficient for 800 ml gin but you may want to add more to your taste.
  • Carefully strain the fruit from the jars. You can use a jelly bag if you have one.
    Sloes with gin added and some orange peel for flavour
  • Now it is a matter of adding the sugar syrup to the strained gin little by little, tasting with each addition, until it reaches a flavour you enjoy.
  • Pour the gin back into the gin bottle or another clean bottle. You can drink straight away, but it will keep very well for years!
    Sloe Gin from start to finish


Source some glass jars (such as a Kilner jar) that you can seal. You can use the gin bottle but it is rather fiddly. Do keep the gin bottle for the finished sloe gin.
Tried this recipe?Mention @Breadbakerdani or tag #SevernBitesBreadmaking!


Sloes with gin added and some orange peel for flavour
Sloes with gin added and some orange peel for flavour

The World Sloe Gin Championships

The World Sloe Gin Championships are an annual event, hosted by The George Inn in Frant. All proceeds of the event are donated to the Hospice in the Weald.  Both professional and amateur sloe gin makers are invited to enter. This year’s submission date is 16 December 2018.

My sloe gin bottled
My sloe gin bottled

In 2016,  the homemade category, which attracted more than 30 entries, a record number, was won by food blogger Danielle Ellis from  near Dursley in Gloucestershire.

Interestingly, in the blind tasting, the three judges – Anita Martin, Mark Baldwin and Dianna Morris all scored the top six homemade entries above any of the commercial contestants. Extract from press release 2016

Sloe gine is a really delicious alcoholic drink that can be drunk neat or added to a cocktail, sloe gin is easy to make with fruits from the hedgerow

If you can’t wait, try these local Sloe Gins

Made in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, Bramley and Gage steep their Sloe Gin with sugar for 6 months.

Gibson’s Cotswold  Organic Sloe Gin is a new addition to their range of fruit liqueurs

For a rather nice twist, try Chase’s Sloe and Mulberry gin  created in Herefordshire.

7 thoughts on “Let’s make winning sloe gin”

  1. 5 stars
    So can I please just verify that you use 800grams of sloes to 400 ml of gin? All of the other recipes I have found use less sloes more gin. Just trying to preserve my sloe supply! Haha

  2. Hello John. So pleased to hear it turned out well. Love the idea of your Christmas variation! What a great way to spend a day.

  3. 5 stars
    Best sloe gin ever. Great recipe. I made 4 litres and 2 litres of a Christmas variation with damsons, dates, cinnamon, cloves, all spice, nutmeg and orange rind which was outrageously good. Basis; Warwickshire sloes and hedgerow fruit. I’m just bottling up the final two litres which has been maturing for five months. The rest of the day will be spent turning the residual fruit into sloe jelly / jam. Happy times!

  4. Would there be a native berry you could use to create your own version? Would love to know! We also make damson gin (small flavoursome plums). Lovely to meet you by the way.

  5. I love the flavour of sloe gin. Hopefully I’ll get to make it one of these days when I can track down a source of fresh sloes. It’s not a common fruit here in Australia but I think it can be grown in the southern states where it is cooler.

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