The Nire Valley

The Nire Valley
The Heart of the Comeragh Mountains.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Sloe gin. The 2013 harvest.

Nire Valley Sloe Gin 2013.

2013 vintage sloe-gin could be scarce as it was a very bad year for the Black thorn and its fruit the sloe. The blackthorn always flowers in late March early April and this year (2013) was cold and wet and this year the blackthorn produced very few flowers. In a good spring white blossom of the black thorn traces the field boundaries and you can pick out the individual fields. We in the South-east of Ireland take this for granted, as our field boundaries are more commonly made up of bushes and trees, but this type of ditch is not found everywhere. One of the great by-products of these banks and ditches is the the wild fruits they support. Sloes, crab apples, haws, hurts, bilberries, wild strawberries and wild raspberries as well as damsons. It is a pity not to pick some and make preserves or flavoured gin and vodka from the sloes and damsons.
Black thorn
The damsons ripen in August while you have to wait for the first frost before you gather sloes. You can pick the sloes and freeze them to "sweeten" them in September, you will need to this if you want sloe-gin for Christmas.

The sloes for this bottle were picked in Ballymacarbry and Hanora's Cottage turned it into Sloe gin.

I wrote about the Sloe in a blog in September, where you will find more information on this common hedge row plant. Here's to a good spring and a bountiful sloe harvest next September.


  1. Glad to hear that you got some sloe gin despite the bad Spring.
    I suppose the gin got priority over the jam !

    1. Yes; some really hard decisions had to be made. ;-)