Homemade sloe gin is a great gift, but I also can't be without a bottle at home, so make sure you make enough to get you through the year. It's always more than you think!
I make sloe gin every year. Picking the sloes around mid October and then bottle just before Christmas to give to friends, family, and colleagues as a festive gift or an end of year gesture. In a nice glass corked bottle it looks the real deal!
Starting the process in October allows the sloe gin approximately 2 1/2 months to blend and infuse which is usually enough time, although the extra, that I make for myself, which is left for even longer is always better.
Sloes are usually at their best in mid October to early November although the weather changes year to year so the timings may shift slightly. If you pick your sloes too late there is always the risk that the birds will have got there before you.
Most recipes that I have seen in the past call for cheap gin. I disagree! Especially if you are planning to give as gifts. When decanted into 500ml bottles, the cost per bottle is not much for the end result. It seems a shame not to use a good quality gin when you have gone to the effort to make something memorable.
I have made sloe gin with cheap and chearful gin alongside my normal batch before to see if it is worth spending the extra money. I found that the batch made with the cheaper gin was a quite fumey and tasted perhaps a little chemically compared with my usual batch which in comparrison tastes suprisingly smooth.
Get the good stuff
Of course this does not mean that it has to be expensive, just good quality, ' LIDL Castelgy London Dry' actually beat a few £30 gins on the market in a blind taste and it is priced at just over £9 a bottle.