As you should know by now, I am a big fan of team Gower. In fact, the entire bottom shelf of my gin collection is their bottles #fangirl. So when they announced their limited edition festive release, I jumped on board. This is a sloe gin made with juniper, coriander seed, pink peppercorn and fresh citrus which has been infused over a number of months with their locally foraged sloe berries. After making this within their family for a few years, they decided to make it on a larger scale and enlisted local foragers to help them collect enough berries. The base spirit is specially designed for this gin, choosing to make a new gin with pink peppercorns rather than using one of their existing gins. In their pursuit to fully embrace the Welsh language throughout their brand, they discovered that ‘sloe gin’ translates to both sloe and damson gin in Welsh. To add clarity, their labels are printed with “jin eirin duon bach” aka ‘gin made with little black sloes”. So, how does it taste?
IT’S DAY ONE OF GINVENT 2018! Here we go again for a third year running. Sorry liver. To kick things off we are trying If you’ve read my blog for the last two years you might have seen my two previous blogs on 58 Gin – their normal gin here and their navy strength here. In those posts you can learn more about 58 Gin, because today we are looking at their sloe gin, and you’d be forgiven for looking past this bottle to try to find the sloe gin. Sloe gins that we know and love are a rich, deep purple colour. This one? Not so much. Rather than seeping sloe berries in a bottle of gin as per the standard method, the berries are included in the distillation process which apparently allows all the flavour, but none of the colour. So, does it actually taste like a sloe gin?
Note: I love the Hayman’s team and they kindly sent me some samples, but as always, I’ll let you know what I think.
You’ve hopefully already read my thoughts on the Hayman’s London Dry and Old Tom gins, and today we are trying their sloe gin. A lot of sloe gins can be too sickly sweet which I find a bit cloying, so it will be interesting to see how this fares. To make their gin they steep wild harvested sloe berries in their London Dry gin for three to four months using, as always, a traditional family recipe. Sloe gin is generally seen as a winter drink, but they suggest pairing it with some sparkling wine for a different take on a kir royale style cocktail.
I’ve been wanting to try Hernö gin for a while, and I’m excited that today’s Ginvent offering is their sloe gin. Hernö is the most awarded gin in Europe – and has been for the last three years. When they launched in 2011, they were Sweden’s first dedicated gin distillery, and five years later now produce four gins – their regular 40.5% gin, the 57% navy strength, an Old Tom gin and a Juniper Cask. Plus now the sloe gin.
It smells syrupy and sweet – but not in a sickly way, nice and fruity. In the glass, a wintery and Christmassy smell comes forward – perfect for this chilly Sunday night. Straight up, it is fairly sugary and punchy, a definite berry flavour coming on to the tongue. Because it’s sloe gin, the best thing to do with it would be to make a sloe gin fizz yeah? Mixed up with lemon, sugar, soda and a splash more gin – it’s nice. The tart berry flavours and syrupy texture cut through the tart lemon juice. It’s not too cloying or sweet, but definitely is quite syrupy. Much like how I thought Pinkster gin would be better suited to a hot summer day, sloe gin is definitely a proper winter drink.
It’s day 9 and we’ve hit another gin I’ve already tried (there’s only about four in the whole of Ginvent) – it’s Elephant Sloe gin! I got this as a sample with my Craft Gin Club delivery a few months back and it is lush. Rather than entirely repeat myself you can check out the full taster here.
Catch up on Ginvent here.
I got my sloe gin with my Elephant gin – bloody love this month’s Craft Gin Club delivery. After the joy that is Elephant gin (and you can read more about that here), I’m excited to try their sloe gin. After ripping off the plastic wrapping (thank god for long nails) I unpop the cork and the smell is sweet and syrupy. A slight sourness comes through so the smell isn’t overwhelming. Slightly Christmassy. Initially dark in colour, when held up to the light it’s a rich amber.
In the glass the juniper smell is strong, then I notice the label says “compared with other sloe gins, relatively low sugar content paired with higher alcohol volume” – it’s 35% which is higher than the average 15-30% (although EU laws say it must be a minimum of 25%). On the tongue when straight it’s very syrupy and sweet, with a strong kick of gin. Mixed with a touch of water it mellows out and produces a rich berry flavour. The juniper isn’t strong when you drink it, tasting slightly more of Chambord as a fruity mixer. Watered down slightly it doesn’t even have a taste of alcohol about it, but I am now obsessed with the idea of it being Christmas.
I don’t usually drink sloe gin with tonic, so instead I’m mixing it into a sloe gin fizz (one of my favourite cocktails in case you’re wondering). 50ml of sloe gin, 25 ml of lemon juice, a teaspoon of caster sugar and topped up with soda water. Nom nom. It’s soft and gentle, the flavours don’t overpowering anything else in the cocktail. Admittedly the recipe I followed called for an extra shot of gin, and perhaps this would have given it that little extra punch it perhaps needs (for my taste buds anyway). The bitterness of the gin and lemon juice is perfectly balanced with the sweetness from the sugar. Perfectly quaffable. I love sloe gin.
A 50cl bottle of Elephant Sloe gin is £31.95 on Masters of Malt (at time of publishing). I’d invest, now the winter and the dark nights are drawing in