The Wine Pages: Homebrew winemaking
I do like sloe gin. Very pretty and very tasty. I normally make 1 litre per year. Choose an inexpensive supermarket brand gin, and buy a litre bottle. Tip the litre bottle into a demi john and add about 300g of white sugar.
Go and pick some sloes and prick each one with a needle and drop the sloes into the demijohn. I find 4lb of sloes is about right for 1 litre of gin, however, anywhere between 3lb and 6lb will be fine for 1 litre of sloe gin.
If you are feeling daring, add a few drops of almond essence.
Seal the demi john with an airlock and leave in a dark place for 2 months. Give the mixture a swirl and a shake every couple of days - the sugar will take a few days to dissolve into the gin.
After a couple of months, strain the mixture through a fine muslin and leave to stand for a week - then rack the clear part off the top and bottle as your "first gin". Put the sludge into another bottle, and put that bottle at the back of the fridge. After a few weeks, the sludge will slowly sink, leaving more clear sloe gin to enjoy.
Add sulfite to the sloe gin at the rate of about 0.1g per litre. This helps the sloe gin hold the wonderful red colour. As sloe gin ages (and a couple of months in the bottle works wonders) it will turn brown - this is a fault, and can be prevented by adding a tiny amount of sulfite to the sloe gin.
Always enjoy some sloe gin at Christmas, but I find this sort of thing is best enjoyed on one of those depressing wet January evenings - a nice memory of the previous summer.