Sloe Gin is a fruit based liqueur based on gin, made using sloe, sometimes called blackthorn, berries. Sloes are a relative of the plum, and are indigenous to Europe and Asia. Sloe gin has a unique fruity berry flavor, initially mildly sweet turning to a lingering tart and slightly bitter finish.
The traditional method of making sloe gin is to harvest ripe sloes, prick them all over and put them in a clean Mason jar. Sugar and spices are added before topping up with gin. The jar is then turned every day for two weeks, then less frequently, until the liquid is ruby red in color, which usually takes three or four months. The liqueur is then decanted off the fruit and spices, clarified, and bottled. Homemade sloe gin typically has an almond aroma due to the extraction from the sloe pits.
In the United States, the lack of a native population of blackthorn shrubs led to producers making liqueurs flavored like sloe gin. These were neon colored, artificially flavored, and had little or nothing to do with true sloe gin. This did not stop these products from being incorporated into all sorts of "cocktails" that are unmentionable here. Luckily, some producers have begun to introduce true sloe gin into the United States market.