The very word ‘sloe’ is synonymous with ‘sloe gin’ or ‘sloe vodka’. Not so much ‘sloe whisky’ though…which is a real pity. Now don’t get me wrong. I love gin, and vodka. But both have a very dry, sharp taste which works wonderfully with the acidity of a lemon or a lime, or the bitterness of tonic.
Whisky is warmer and richer and rounder though. During whisky tastings, fruity words are often bandied about: a prune or plummy flavour, ‘sweet’ and ‘jammy’ – with certain blends having detectable ‘pear drop’ or ‘mince pie’ notes.
So in my humble opinion, whisky really is the best friend of the sloe.
Now’s a great time to make sloe whisky. I saw lots and lots on hedgerows in Oxford this weekend.
What’s more, if you get this under way soon, then it’ll be ready in time to decant and bottle as Christmas presents.
You’ll be very popular!
1 litre of whisky (I used supermarket own-brand. See notes below.)
After washing the sloes, cookbooks will advise you to stab them all over with a fork.
This is quite time consuming though, so I squashed them between my thumb and first finger – just enough to maximise the surface area and make sure that all the juices are released.
Put the sloes in a container.
Pour whisky over them, and then stir in the sugar.
At this point somebody more high-brow than myself would bandy about the best varieties of whisky to use.
But if/when I’m lucky enough to get my hands on a nice bottle of Glenmorangie or something equally delicious, then it’d be an utter waste to do anything with it other than enjoy it neat (or with a little ice/water). The subtle flavours of a fancy whisky will just get overwhelmed by the sugar-sloe flavours if it’s used in this recipe. So what I would recommend is a bog-standard supermarket variety. They’re cheap, often pretty darned tasty, and in this circumstance, they certainly do the job.
Give the whisky-sloe-sugar mixture a good stir, and then leave it in a cool, dry place.
When you walk by the sloe whisky, give it a stir from time to time.
After a couple of months, strain the whisky through a sieve, and decant the liquid into smaller bottles for presents.
If you hate waste, then you can pick out the stones, and then stud melted chocolate with the sloes, or even make it into a naughty, boozy jam.