Sloe gin is a ruby-red tipple that is synonymous with cold weather and the festive season. This sweet yet spicy drink rose in popularity during the 17th century, as a result of the increase in Prunus Spinosa plants. These spikey plants were perfect for separating fields, which became necessary after the Enclosure Acts separated previously communal land into private farms.
However, the British people struggled at first to find a use for this huge crop of wild berries. The berries looked attractive; they were deep purple in colour and had a perfectly bite-sized shape, but were unsuitable for eating due to their tart and astringent taste. Calling someone a “sloe” in the 1700s was even an insult. One of my favourite examples of this is listed below:
“That sour crab, that sloe, that green medlar, that cut-lemon of a fellow” – Charles Dibdin, 1745-1814, ‘The younger brother: a novel, in three volumes, written by Mr. Dibdin’
Luckily, the inventive British people discovered several ways they could make something tasty out of the bitter fruit. They made chutneys, jams and even a delicious flavoured gin infused with these autumnal berries. Sloe gin recipes have been refined over time, with gin companies building on their traditional formulas. Our take on this gin is available at https://forgedspirits.com/product/sloe-gin/