This winter I have been making liqueurs with hedgerow fruits – things like sloe & damson gins and vodkas but also variations with hawthorne berries, white bullaces, quince and crab-apples. As part of my research I decided to rigorously “test” some of the commercial competition – brands such as Gordon’s, Greenall’s, Heyman’s and Sipsmith all make sloe gins and they can be obtained from supermarkets. I was also recommended to try Old Luxter’s, which is made by a vineyard and brewery near Hambleden. Anyway, here are my opinions:
- Gordon’s sloe gin: I actually tested this in 2013 but I found it fairly good – very palatable but nothing special in taste terms. This is probably the easiest brand to get in the shops and they do lots of other flavoured gins.
- Greenall’s sloe gin: This one is priced about the same as Gordon’s and is fairly nice again with a distinctly smokey taste to it. Drinking this one reminds me of drinking Lapsang Sushong tea.
- Hayman’s sloe gin: This is available in Waitrose and is very nice indeed, for a commercial sloe gin. The taste is smooth and full of flavour.
- Old Luxter’s sloe gin: This comes over as much more ‘home made’ in taste and is very plummy but with sloe in the background.
- Old Luxter’s damson vodka: This is just as unusual with a much stronger flavour of wild plums and a less complex finish too. Still very nice for a change from the more commercial brands.
- Sipsmith sloe gin: This is definitely my favourite. The flavour is very like Hayman’s in its basic “sloe-gin-i-ness” but with a far more complex taste. You can easily detect the juniper in the original gin plus other highlights.
I hope to flash these out in time when I have had more time to think about them in detail 🙂