I have a thing for sloe gin. I just love making it, as I suspect a lot of people do. There is something very satisfying about foraging among the hedgerows in autumn and coming home with a basketful of sloes to magically turn into an amber liquid redolent of cosy firesides and Christmas.
But sloe gin is not just for Christmas and I was quite chuffed when Ableforth’s sent me a bottle of their sloe gin. Sloe Gin is just one of many expressions in the Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin range.
Formerly The Professor Ampleforth, Ableforth/Ampleforth have been busily making bathtub gin, since 2011 ~ as well as a cask-aged gin, navy-strength gin, cask-aged navy-strength, old tom, sloe gin, rum, cherry brandy, summer fruit cup, Christmas mulled cup and absinthe. Phew!
The familiar brown paper wrapper, brown string and black wax seal give their products an under-the-counter prohibition feel, a nod to the origin of the name ‘bathtub gin’. It is a cold compound gin and while compound gins can sometimes have a dodgy reputation Ableforth’s exudes quality and has lifted the category of bathtub gins to a status far removed from the gins of prohibition times.
Juniper, coriander, cassia, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel.
On the nose, there is juniper, citrus and very, very faintly almonds. The impression is of dryness, sweetly floral, like a Christmas wreath.
Generous legs in the glass indicate a full-bodied spirit. The gin is a beautiful rich deep ruby russet colour.
Although Abelforth’s Sloe Gin gin is labelled as gin, as it is below 37.5% ABV technically it is more of a liqueur. But if you are expecting a syrupy low-strength liqueur in the 20%s you will be surprised. Stronger in ABV than a typical sloe gin in the 30%s, it is dryer and less syrupy sweet but smooth, smooth, smooth.
Made with half a pound of sloes per 50cl bottle the gin is full of tart fruitiness but not mouth-puckeringly so.
The taste is bitterly sweet, with a hint of ginger marmalade, spiced and reminiscent of gluhwein. Light on the bitter almond you would expect from a sloe gin it is nevertheless quite pleasant and for sloe gin lovers this will fill a gap in their collection. Cinnamon and cloves linger to emphasize the gluhwein/mulled wine taste.
The recommended serve is bitter lemon or lemon tonic.
The high ABV lends itself less for sipping and more for adding to cocktails.
Forager’s Fizz is as simple as: 45ml sloe gin in a champagne flute. Top with champagne, prosecco or lemonade, depending on your taste and pocket.
For something more complicated try making a Gin Genie. The lemony sharpness of the sloe gin pairs beautifully with the fresh lemon juice in the cocktail. For the recipe click here.
Thanks to Maverick Drinks for sending me a sample of Ableforth’s Sloe Gin.
To buy a bottle click here:-