It's THAT time of the year again.
Spring has sprung and we are manning the battle stations, readying for the cocktail wars of summer.
While our Dry and Ginfusion range has been kicking goals and gracing the shelves of many Australian gin aficionados, my one true love has been quietly resting for the past seven months.
Vibrantly red with subtle purple hues, just the mention of her name sends my head into a dizzying spin.
OK, maybe all a tad dramatic, but many of you, our loyal followers, can attest that this stuff is good. Very good.
While the vast majority of our sloes are sourced from the chilly plains of Tasmania, the team did have a successful expedition to a secret plot in Victoria.
After bribing one disgruntled guard (pictured below), we were on our way to picking a nice little haul.
The work of running a small business can be tough and, at times, monotonous. However days like these make me happy not to be stuck in a cubicle. Look at these little babies - conditions were close to perfect.
Although picturesque, this type of work has serious annoyances. Namely wildlife (spiders, snakes, and ... cows) and the deadly spikes that emanate from every direction. A tip to all prospective sloe pickers: wear shoes with thick soles or accept the near certainty of unwanted acupuncture - a lesson I learnt the hard way.
After this small batch was picked, we headed back to the distillery for the tedious processing of the little drupes (i.e., small stone fruits). This means getting rid of leaves and stems, and giving them a quick bath to remove dirt and debris.
Luckily for us, our forager mates in Tassie had already done this for the larger shipments.
The subtle taste characteristics of these sloes varied with each shipped batch. However, they all possessed several common traits: astringency, bitterness and a fruity, red-berry flavour. Traditionally, some of these intense and unwanted characters are mitigated by picking the fruit after the 'first frost', an effect easily replicated by flash freezing. Previously hard to the touch, the internal composition when thawed more resembles that of an over ripe fruit.
In the olden days, the apprentices had the job of pricking the sloe skins with the thorns previously mentioned. We haven't progressed too far in that time and currently use a meat tenderising tool with rows of tiny blades.
As apprentices for sloe pricking are hard to come by these days, a few weeks of self-imposed slave labour ensured my precious sloes became happily drunk on our Classic Dry gin.
Sloely, day by day, essences from the skin, fruit and stones were giving life to this incredible elixir.
After seven months of religious stirring and skimming of debris, we were getting somewhere. Check out this colour! #nofilter
After removing the drupes from the mixture, they received one final treatment; a slow distillation to recover alcohol and also accentuate the typical marzipan for which sloe is known.
All that was missing now were some of the usual processes. Dilution with water, addition of sugar syrup, test distillation (to help fine-tune alcoholic strength), and finally getting it into the bottle.
And there you have it. If you had the restraint to keep a 2018 for aging, it's on the left for comparison.
Our 2019 shows:
Colour: Transparent and luminous red with pink/purple hues
Nose: Balanced marzipan with buried and faint citrus/botanicals
Taste: Lush, vibrant and sweet berry fruit - sinister and deep spiced flavours (almost like vermouth) - followed by a fine, lingering and dry finish
Verdict? Bloody good.
Another year, another batch done. Although this is only the second post in our blog, I thoroughly enjoy this extra creative outlet. Hopefully you enjoyed reading it too?
As always, thanks for your support and you can find our Sloe Gin available for purchase through the 'Our Products' section in the menu.
We're looking forward to seeing you all at future events and sharing this little drop!
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