Those of you that enjoy making and drinking sloe gin should also try the recipe below for blackberry whisky.
Blackberries can be picked from midsummer onwards, once the fruit has ripened on the brambles. You'll need to be careful of the sharp thorns and should never pick fruit from brambles at the roadside. Luckily, brambles take hold in most unmanaged fields, hedgerows and margins and so it is not too hard to find a good source. See Blackberries and Brambling for more information.
You will need:
- 600g (21 oz) Blackberries
- 300g (10oz) Raw Cane Sugar
- 1 litre of Scotch Whisky
Blackberry whisky is most commonly made with Scotch whisky, although you may like to try making it with Bourbon if you prefer it. There is little value to be gained by using the most expensive whisky so go for a cheaper brand but, as for sloe gin, if the alcohol content of your whisky is lower than 40%, your final product will not be as intensely flavoured. It is therefore best to aim for a low-cost but not watered-down product.
Raw (unprocessed) cane sugar is best because it contains no chemicals and has a natural flavour. The recipe can be scaled up or down according to the amount of whisky available. If you picked too much fruit, buy more whisky!
The method is the same as for sloe gin:
- Wash and dry the blackberries.
- Put the blackberries, whisky and sugar into a large jar or demijohn.
- Shake until the sugar has dissolved or until your arms start to ache.
- Put the lid back on the whisky bottle and keep it to one side - there's no need to wash it out.
- Keep the container in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
- Shake once or twice a day for the first two weeks then once a week for six to eight weeks in total.
- You can then decant the liquid back into the original bottle - it is best to strain it through a piece of muslin cloth or kitchen towel using a funnel.
Beware - this drink will stain more severely than red wine! So prepare and drink with care and don't give it to your kids!
The final product has an unexpectedly beautiful rich flavour similar to that of port with a slightly woody undertone that is the only remaining hint of the whisky you started with, and is nothing like a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. It can be drunk directly from the bottle but in polite company the preference is to serve it neat in small shot-glasses or as a long drink mixed with lemonade.
It also makes a superb substitute for plain whisky in a Hot Toddy Cold Remedy.