Whenever I’m moderating a gin tasting, I am faced with the difficult question of the right choice of gins. In the end, it all depends very much on what you want to achieve with the tasting: Should it be about the widest possible range of different gin styles and tastes? Should the focus perhaps be more on the subtleties of different London dry gins? Are you restricting yourself to the label “Dry Gin” and taking a middle course? Making the right decision is not always easy. (provided test product)*
Of course, this is also largely due to the expectations of the participants. When such a tasting primarily aims at gin beginners, I usually choose the slightly larger range in order to be able to show the diversity in the gin segment. However, even here one question is always difficult to answer: Should I also present a Sloe Gin?
The question is difficult because Sloe Gin is not really gin. But of course it deserves a place in the history of gin and that’s why it ends up on my tasting lists from time to time.
Sloe Gin was originates – how could it be otherwise – from England, where it was mostly made by combining fresh sloe fruits with gin and sugar. However, it is not quite so unique to Britain because under the name “Schlehenfeuer” or “Schlehenlikör” similar liqueurs also exist historically in German-speaking countries and other continental European countries. The special thing about this liqueur was that in England they used to do it on a gin base and still do most of the time. Well, when I write “most of the time”, then you might already become suspicious: in fact there does not have to be any gin in a Sloe gin at all, which is quite odd – but of course such a Sloe Gin would be a bad choice for any gin tasting event. Nevertheless, the European Union protects the term Sloe Gin due to its historical roots and stipulates that it must contain at least an ABV of 25% vol. and that the liqueur must be produced by maceration with sloe fruits. In a sense, it is therefore the only spirit to bear the name “Gin” on the label, which may contain less than 37.5% vol.
The Sloe Gin I would like to examine today is the Elephant German Sloe Gin. About the Elephant Gin I wrote a short article some time ago to which I would like to refer at this point. The Northern German and African inspired gin is now mixed with fresh sloe fruits and sugar in order to produce the Elephant Sloe Gin. It is bottled unfiltered; therefore, it shows a slight clouding. However, with quite a lavish ABV of 35% vol., the Elephant German Sloe Gin stands out promisingly and full of self-confidence from the rank of other Sloe Gins. The sugar content is also said to be somewhat lower than that of other members of the genre, which of course seems to be a good thing at first glance. Let’s put the whole thing to the acid test!
Aroma: Beautiful, warm sloe tones with associations of dark plums, ripe cherries, cinnamon bark and some vanilla are the first impressions that come to mind during the tasting. A certain sour component is also present, while the gin base remains clearly in the background. Nuances of cloves, nutmeg – basically the full potpourri of Christmas spices can be found.
Taste: the quite smooth Elephant Sloe Gin brings a noticeable sweetness with it, which is not unpleasant, furthermore it skillfully binds the acidity of the fruits and transports beautiful, dark fruit notes (first of all, of course, sloe notes). However, the taste of Christmas spices is also inseparable on the palate, reminiscent of gingerbread. A beautiful, aromatic Sloe Gin.
Finish: The aftertaste is dominated by spices and a fruity acidity.
As a cocktail, immediately I had to think of a Sloe Gin Silver Fizz – a great drink which I really appreciate. However, today I wanted to try a drink I had not been able to devote myself to until now: the Sloegroni. There are (not surprisingly) different variants out there, but I decided to try the very promising version of Svetlana Holz from the Le Lion in Hamburg. The only difference: She actually uses 1.5 cl of Sloe Gin from Plymouth, but since this one is a bit sweeter than the Elephant, I slightly changed the proportions by replacing it with 2 cl of Elephant German Sloe Gin and also slightly reduced the Americano content.
Recipe “Sloegroni” (slightly modified variant):
3 cl Citadelle Reserve
3 cl Cocchi Rosa Americano
2 cl Elephant German Sloe Gin
1.5 cl Campari
Preparation: First, stir all ingredients on ice in a mixing glass until cold and then strain onto a large piece of ice in a tumbler.
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online, for example at Conalco.
*The bottle for this review was provided to me by the Conalco Spirituosen UG. The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.