The competitors line up

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 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 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.”

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.

The winner's podium

Tagged with: DisasterGinSloe gin

20 Responses to The sloe gin off: the results

  1. […] my triumph at the sloe gin tasting will be blogged extensively in April. I may even make myself an award. A big shiny gold […]

  2. Lizzie says:

    wheeeuuurrf. They sound rank. That poor, poor gin…

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      That was exactly our emotion at the end of the tasting. A terrible waste of gin. Just terrible.

  3. James says:

    Not made Sloe Gin before, but was passed a recipe at the weekend for Plum Ginm, whicj I will be having a go at later in the year.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Plum gin sounds lovely. I think I remember @aforkful having a recipe for plum gin/vodka. Think I will be following other people’s recipes from now on rather than creating my own witch’s brew.

  4. tehbus says:

    I make a mean piccalilli

  5. I love the way that “Elements of petrol and horse faeces” rates as only “Quite unpleasant.”

    Quite unpleasant? Not really, really face-pullingly vomit-inducingly unpleasant?

    Otherwise, well done. I think.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      My friends have strong stomachs and taste buds of pure asbestos. It’s a wonder they can taste anything, really.

  6. miss south says:

    I feel better about our totally antifreeze-tastic elderflower gin cock up now. Again, fancy is not neccesarily better we discovered. And sugar in quantities to make a dentist weep is essential!

  7. Hilarious – bet you are devastated over a sullying of good gin! Still worth it for the laughs we are all getting reading this.

  8. Uncle Ji says:

    This made me laugh out loud for a good 5 minutes. (thats actually quite a long time) HILARIOUS. Will not be making sloe gin anytime soon…

  9. Catherine Phipps says:

    Hilarious. I agree with Lizzie, the poor, poor gin. I always make sloe vodka instead and keep it pure, just sloes, sugar and alcohol. You end up with something quite palatable, definitely no hint of cough mixture!

  10. […] Hits A new to me blog, Gin and Crumpets suffers through an attempt to make sloe gin. Funny as hell and well worth the read. (H/T: @GInMonkeyUK) British Brewer Introduces a Beer Laced […]

  11. DJ says:

    I’m actually crying. So glad I wasn’t there! But thank you for writing about it.

  12. […] Gin and Crumpets If you can't drink it, eat it « The sloe gin off: the results […]

  13. ginandcrumpets says:

    @miss south Ah, I wish you hadn’t mentioned elderflower gin because now I’m thinking: “Ooh, I could try making elderflower gin.” I have not learned my lesson.

    @Gourmet Gin I mourn the gin, I really do.

    @Uncle Ji A wise decision.

    @Catherine Phipps Yes, I think I may stick with vodka for making fruity liqueurs. I won’t mind so much if it’s vodka that goes wrong.

    @DJ You had a lucky escape.

  14. SN 2 says:

    Loving the Harry Potter reference in the critique!

  15. […] there was a china backing to a sloe solitaire ambience off, it was a celebration pig cake we used to line a stomachs. We indeed ate it as a light starter and […]

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