Sloe Gin is not a drink that everyone will be familiar with - non Gin lovers will shy away from trying it. This is a mistake as, although gin based, infusing the gin in sloes for a few months produces a delicious drink which has little in common with neat gin. Come autumn we scour the hedgerows for sloes and make our own sloe gin, but having sampled Sipsmith's version I have come to appreciate that we are merely amateurs in this game!
In colour Sipsmith's is surprisingly light, equivalent to a less than full bodied red wine. However, the first mouthful is an explosion of taste and this really is the best version of this classic drink I have come across. I suspect that this has a lot to do with the fact that the gin used is Sipsmith's London Dry Gin, which is at the premium end of the market and which my wife and I recently discovered. It has quickly become our favourite gin and if you check out the price per bottle of that tipple it makes sense of the pricing of their sloe gin. Manufacturers often use inferior gin to make sloe gin and the result really does not compare.
My wife and I are not lovers of sweet sickly liqueurs and we thought that the sweetness here was wellbalanced and not a dominant feature of the drink at all. It's a fine dividing line between producing sloe gin which is over or under sweet, but I would say the folk at Sipsmith's had got it about right.
If you have not tried this you are in for a real treat. Our only criticism was that the bottle did disappear rather quickly - we put it down to evaporation at altitude - after all we do live up a hill!
This is a very tasty gin, which I enjoy neat, over ice, or mixed with some Fever Tree tonic. For a dry gin, it is suprisingly sweet, perhaps due to the liquorice, but not excessively so. The botanicals are all very wellbalanced. I particularly like the subtle citrus flavours (although these are a little redundant, if you serve it with lime or lemon, as many will). I understand Sipsmith pioneered the micro-distilling industry, and for that, I'm very grateful to them!
I attended a lecture (with samples!) presented by Hendricks at the Brighton Festival a couple of years back and learned many interesting facts about gin, including that more new gin makers had set up in the last ten years than in the previous hundred which has to be good news for gin lovers everywhere! Sipsmith are one of these, and although not a distillery I have come across before, they clearly know what they are doing as this gin is quite simply delicious.
This is a gin which you really want to savour and appreciate, and whilst I am not a fan of neat gin, you will definitely do much better if you don't swamp it with too much tonic as this will only be diluting the complex flavour. And a flavoursome mouthful it is too. It presents an interesting mix of flavours. The juniper is quite obvious, and I thought there were definite hints of orange peel, but most importantly it is a wellbalanced blend which works very well. At 41.6% it is strong, but not the strongest you can get. However, it is so flavoursome that you get the impression that it is significantly stronger.
I like the more interesting gins such as Tanqeray and Bombay Sapphire mainly because the mixture of botanicals and herbs make for a much more interesting drink than basic London Dry Gin. Their more recent up market introductions - Bombay East and Tanqueray Ten are even better. However, Sipsmiths really knocks spots off both of these, and at a comparable price it is really no contest. My wife and were really impressed at the first glass, but felt obliged to try a second just to make sure!