Sloe gin

or rather the blossom that will form the sloes that will be picked to make the gin.   In the village I come from on Speyside, and where my father still lives, there's a wonderful wild expanse of sloe trees.  My mother used to make sloe gin from the fruit.  If we can time our visit right this autumn I'm planning to make some.  It's not really a gin, more a liqueur made by pricking the sloes and macerating in gin along with a hefty addition of sugar - the sloes by themselves are mouth-shrivelling.

Whether or not I manage to harvest some sloes, it was balm to the city soul to walk among the blossom on Easter Sunday.


On Speyside of course you're never far from whisky, and our alcoholic-themed walk continued as we passed Glenrothes distillery.  A load of draff was coming off.  Draff is the spent barley, which the distillery has no more use for after it's been soaked in hot water to extract the sugary liquid that will be fermented, then distilled.  In the shot below you can see the spiral of hot mash falling into the trailer.  Traditionally it's been used as animal feed, but increasingly now it's going to a biomass plant in the village where it's mixed with woodchips to produce electricity.   More about this mixed environmental 'blessing' in another post sometime!

And then, sadly, we had to leave Speyside to come south, where we were met with a good dose of haar (sea fog).  There's a castle in there somewhere...


  1. I never knew that's how sloe gin was made! Very interesting post. Glad you are getting some pretty blooming trees to enjoy.

    By the way - "Peeps" are Easter candy in the form of yellow marshmallow chicks. Very popular here in the US, but I'm guessing they're not sold in Scotland. (You're not missing much - the peeps are sickeningly sweet)

  2. What a shocking return!
    I never really thought about what a 'sloe' was in sloe gin - I think if I had, I would have guessed it was the method, not the fruit (since I'd never heard of the fruit.) but now I've googled it and learned even more.
    Enough learning, time for a drink now....

  3. I used to drink sloe gin with orange juice. Haven't had it in many many years though.

  4. Such beautiful blossom - and I think I know that smell of the "draff". My the haar was really thick, wasn't it? A belated Happy Easter to you all.

  5. blooming trees are beautiful :)

  6. I had heard of Sloe gin but had no idea what it was!

  7. Such beautiful white blooms against the blue sky!

  8. I've only heard of the classic cocktail "sloe gin fizz" - but have never had one. Must try it! I'm not much of a gin fan, though... the only way I've been able to stomach it so far was with lemon juice, soda, and loads of sugar - sort of "gin lemonade".

    As for peeps - they're awful to eat, but I hear they burn wonderfully! (Some college kids nearly set their dorm on fire here in the States, burning peeps... HA!) I also just read a news story about students sending up weather balloons into space for a science experiment, and in one they put peeps. There's just something about peeps that makes people want to involve them in everything, and then laugh about it.

  9. Now I know what's in those Carntyne lorries on the A9!
    I can never find enough sloes round here to make sloe gin, but two autumns ago I bought a load of Cumbrian damsons from a farm shop and made damson gin. We managed to resist it till that Christmas, when it was just right. We had the remaining, matured bottle last Christmas: it was DELICIOUS. I am salivating just thinking about it.


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