I’ve heard of it, and I’ve peered at it from across the bar, but I’d never thought it necessary to try a sip of sloe gin. A deceptively simple liqueur derived from sloe berries (a fruit similar to the plum), sloe gin is traditionally made by infusing gin with the berries, although some manufacturers use neutral spirits for the base and add flavoring — artificial or otherwise. The resulting liqueur weighs in at anywhere between 30 to 60 proof, with varying flavors depending upon the quality of the ingredients.
My bartender picked a winner when he gave me something to try, as Plymouth’s Sloe Gin is no slouch. Plymouth Gin itself is a respectable product, and they use it to great effect as the base for their sloe liqueur, along with water from Dartmoor, England, and a small amount of sugar. This concoction is then steeped for a period of four months, after which the gin is ready for consumption.
The product comes in Plymouth’s signature arched-top bottle, proudly displaying the deep red hue of the gin, enticing the onlooker to have a closer peek. The drink pours easily in an almost syrupy fashion, and smells fruity with a candy-like aroma similar to amaretto. The taste of Plymouth Sloe Gin is sweet yet bitter, especially on the finish. The fruity simplicity contrasts nicely with the mellow bite the gin imparts. The finish is long and warming, making this a perfect ingredient for a chilly winter evening.
Sloe gin can be used to liven up any number of cocktails, or to put a new spin on old favorites. The Sloe Gin Fizz is one that immediately comes to mind, but there are plenty of other great cocktail ideas for sloe gin in case you have something against egg whites. You can usually find a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin for around $35.00, and seeing as it’s one of the select few that still use a traditional recipe, it’s likely going to be your best bet unless you’ve found a really good liquor store.