September and October is the perfect time to get all your home-made liqueurs ready for Christmas. The blackthorn hedges near us are full of fat, ripe sloe berries for making sloe vodka or gin – check out the recipe here from the archive.
You can follow exactly the same recipe to make damson vodka by halving the amount of sugar and substituting the sloes for damsons. You don’t need as much sugar as ripe sloes are bitter and ripe damsons aren’t. This is one of my favourites as damsons are a bit fiddly to do anything else with, the dark ruby colour is sublime and the liqueur takes on the flavour not just of the fruit, but also a slight back note of almond from the damson stones. Remove the fruit after a couple of months and decant the liqueur into a clean bottle so it doesn’t go cloudy. I use large Kilner jars to make it as the neck is wide enough to pop the fruit in and save the original vodka bottles to decant it back into once it’s fully infused.
Follow the same recipe to combine blackberries, sugar and whiskey for the most sublime hedgerow whiskey liqueur ever. Use a 2-litre flagon, a litre of own brand but high strength whiskey (40% proof), 150ml of sugar and top up the jar with ripe blackberries. About 400g will do it. Remove the blackberries after no more than 6 weeks or it will taste a little woody.
Don’t forget the quince brandy recipe from my earlier post on what do with the quince harvest too. It’s perfect for Christmas cake and champagne cocktails!
Store your bottles somewhere cool and dark, bring it out at Christmas and make a lot of people happy!
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