- Food & Drink
In December Mr B was given a bag of sloes by his ever-loving mother. A big bag of sloes. More sloes than one person could reasonably use in sloe gin making unless they have their own distillery.
Mr B doesn’t, so he offered me a share of his hedgerow harvest. This kind and generous offer was met with an immediate challenge to a sloe gin making competition. I like to be as aggressive and ungrateful as possible when dealing with my friends. Keeps them on their toes.
So on a dark and stormy night, I donned a white lab coat, coiffed my hair into wild, white tufts and brewed up a jar of sloe gin that I humbly christened Definitely The Winning Sloe Gin. Mr B did the same, to his own secret recipe, and Leonard and The Enigmatic Mr S used gin leftover from Mr B’s efforts and the remains of their fruit bowl to create a uniquely evil brew.
After months of maturing we finally brought the gins out of their dark cupboards and hidey-holes and set up a thoroughly professional blind taste test. Lennard (not Leonard) was our impartial overseer and she poured the gins into 6 glasses labelled A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. One set was left neat, the other set was mixed with prosecco to create a theoretically delicious sloe gin cocktail.
There were 5 judges: me, Leonard, Mr B, Mr S and Sister Number 1. We didn’t know which gin was in which glass and we had proper cards to record our scores out of 10 and tasting notes. Fortified by a substantial breakfast and pork pie, we plunged in. I share our pain with you below.
Neat sloe gin
A1: score 11/50
“Fruity on the nose, less fruity in mouth. Elements of petrol and horse faeces. Quite unpleasant.”
“Smells like medicine and hairspray, tastes like strawberries. Watery.”
“Fucking awful. Cough mixture mixed with diesel.”
“The drink equivalent of a Dementor draining the joy from life.”
B1: score 22/50
“Spicy rubber. Sour pesticide. Powerfully bad aftertaste.”
“So promising, but tastes of rotten blackberries and aniseed twists.”
“Bit spicy, like gingerbread men. Much nicer than A1.”
C1: score 25.5/50
“Very sweet, tastes like cough candy.”
“Lovely sweet smell, smooth taste. No clear overall flavour.”
“Burnt rubber and Szechuan pepper. Not food. Drainy.”
Winner of the neat slow gin round: C1
Sloe gin cocktail
A2: score 9/50
“Tastes like brackish, stale water.”
“HOLY FUCKING HELL PANTS.”
B2: score 17/50
“A bit like Vimto. Too sugary.”
“Nasty, nasty aftertaste.”
“Utterly dismal. An insult to the senses.”
C2: score 20.5/50
“Really nice nose, spicy and peppery.”
“I would drink this. Smoother than the rest”
“Awful at every stage.”
Cocktail round winner: C2
Overall winner: C1/C2 won both rounds and romped home with a combined score of 46/100.
With absolutely no pride at all I can tell you that C1/C2 was my sloe gin. I can’t recommend you make it. It was far too sweet, the star anise was too strong and the orange zest gave it a bitter hint of cough syrup. There’s half a jar of it left and I don’t know what to do with it. Weed killer or chemical warfare are probably my best options.
Mr B’s sloe gin was B1/B2 and came in second with a combined score of 39/100. It was made with Gordon’s Export, sugar, cardamom, cumin and a few other scrapings from the spice cabinet. If you’ve ever wondered what curried sloe gin would taste like, I can tell you: dismal.
Mr S and Leonard’s offering, made with Gordon’s Export Gin, cherries and blueberries and no sugar at all, limped home with a score of 20/100. If we learnt anything from their potion, it’s that sugar and sloes are essential in sloe gin making.
We also learnt not to mess up sloe gin with fancy pants ingredients and exotica. Gin, sloes, sugar – that’s all you need. Now, on to the piccalilli making competition.