7 Essential Sloe Gins for Spring

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Sloe Gin brings touches of sweetness and complexity to summertime cocktails, whether you’re ordering at your favourite watering hole or mixing it up at home.

 
 
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Elephant Sloe Gin

While its story started in South Africa, with the traditional ‘sundowner’ drink of gin and tonic, today Elephant Gin is handmade in Germany, and features a heart of exotic African botanicals such as buchu leaves and African Wormwood. For the Sloe Gin addition to the lineup, sloe berries are harvested by hand and soaked in the classic London Dry Gin for several months, with the wild berries providing a whole new flavour profile and a warm red colour to the spirit. With lower sugar content than other sloe gins and a higher ABV of 35 percent, this drop is ideal for mixing in seasonal cocktails. Richly rounded with a light sweetness and touches of delicate fruit, Elephant Sloe Gin is only produced once a year and each handwritten label features the date the bottle was distilled. It takes its name from the brand’s elephant conservation projects, to which 15 percent of each bottle’s profit is donated. To top it off, each bottle is packaged with a set of colourful beads, handcrafted by the Maasai tribe in Kenya, tied around the neck. 

 
 
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Bramley and Gage 6 O’clock Sloe Gin

The brand’s family-run fruit farm began experimenting with a French maceration method back in the 1980s, creating strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant liqueurs. With an abundance of sloe berries in the farm’s hedges, it wasn’t long before the brand’s Bramley and Gage 6 O’clock Sloe Gin made its way to market. Now made in small batches using wild, hedgerow sloe berries, the spirit’s intense fruit flavour is achieved by using a high sloe berry-to-gin ratio, with the addition of sugar and a six-month maturing period. Smooth, intense and with a robust flavour, Bramley and Gage 6 O’clock Sloe Gin is great neat or with a dash of soda.

 
 
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Mother’s Ruin Sloe Gin

Sold in a tall terracotta bottle, with a sketch of a sloe cutting covering the label, Mother’s Ruin Sloe Gindoesn’t look like your typical British sloe gin. But, sticking to the brand’s English roots, most of the ingredients used by Mother’s Ruin are home-grown or foraged from in and around East London. Its flavour is very much linked to place, with different areas producing slightly different flavours for each unique batch of the spirit. Depending on the sun, the soil and the temperature, tart and sour sloes create a complex plum flavoured liqueur which is left to steep over one year. The rich fruity flavour takes well to the gin botanicals – juniper and spice which come through underneath. At the weekends the Mother’s Ruin manufacturing unit opens up as a small cocktail and gin bar serving a collection of cocktails incorporating the sloe gin and other flavoured liqueurs too.

 
 
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Hayman’s Sloe Gin

A family recipe dating back over 150 years, Hayman’s Sloe Gin is now produced by Miranda, James and Christopher Hayman who believe a true English sloe gin is defined by its balance, which is why this craft spirit is not too sweet and not too tart, with plenty of heady gin goodness. Through a process handed down by generations of the Hayman family, wild sloe berries are steeped for three to four months in the Hayman’s classic English gin. The result is a sloe gin with plum aromas, hints of almond and frangipane and a gin-forward palate. Classically enjoyed throughout the festive season, this gin also pairs perfectly with sparkling wine to create a refreshing summer serve.

 
 
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Ableforth’s Bathtub Sloe Gin

Described by Ableforth as a gin that “starts where others finish”, the brand takes its signature pot still gin, which is made with juniper, coriander and other fragrant botanicals, and then infuses additional botanicals, including orange peel, cassia, juniper, coriander, cardamom and clove, which would not usually survive the initial distillation, and then redistill the whole mix, creating  an accomplished spirit that’s elegant yet complex. Produced with almost half a pound of sloes in every bottle, Ableforth’s Bathtub Sloe Gin is presented in bottles wrapped in brown paper, which are waxed by hand before shipment.

 
 
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Plymouth Sloe Gin

The making of fruit gins has long been a tradition in the English countryside, and Plymouth Sloe Gin’s recipe dates back to 1883. Created in Plymouth, home to one of England’s biggest ports, the journey of Plymouth Gin is synonymous with the British Royal Navy. Originally made by soaking the fruit of the blackthorn bush in gin and adding sugar, today the spirit holds notes of sweet cherry with a smooth and fruity body, offering the perfect balance of sweet and dry. Mix Plymouth Sloe Gin with Plymouth Original Gin, Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth, apricot liqueur, lemon and orange juices and soda water for a Plymouth gin cocktail, The Pennant.

 
 
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Whitshire Liqueur Sloe Gin

A timeless take on the sloe gin of Britain past, this fruit-forward tipple is deliberately blended to produce a drier and more complex spirit than it might at first appear. Perfect for mixing into seasonal cocktails, each bottle of Whitshire Liqueur Sloe Gin comes with a recipe booklet that will offer inspiration through the whole of summer. The company also makes blood orange, damson and strawberry liqueurs.

 
 

DrinkFred Kirby