Plymouth Sloe

$$ — 26% ABV — unaged

One of the few authentic sloe gins still around, this is a very English product devised by English farmers. Blackthorns were, and sometimes still are, often grown as hedgerows to pen in livestock. After a good freeze in autumn weather, the bush's sloe berries are fit for harvest.

But sloes are so astringent as to be inedible straight off the branch. Two solutions became popular: cook them with apples into a thick jam; or soak them in gin and add some sugar. This was the height of the English gin craze, so you can imagine which method became more popular.

Modern farming has made strawberries and cherries so cheap to make, nowadays sloe berries in any form rarely come to market. Plymouth's is one of the few brands of true sloe gin you'll find on the west end of the Pond. An 1883 recipe paired with an already very earthy-style gin, it's the real deal. With a rich color and powerful tartness, this product is just the thing for breaking the mild chill of spring or autumn. It's certainly worth seeking out and mixes a genius gin & tonic. Also its low ABV means you can sip all day without risking a hangover. Cheers to that!

Black Friars is located in Barbican, Plymouth in South of England. Established in 1793 by Coates & Co., it is now owned by Pernod-Ricard.