01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

Which gin for the berry glut?

Morning all,

A glut of black currants, which I plan to do a spiced apple and black currant gin with. And a rapidly developing damson bush…

Question is, does anyone have a cheap go to gin that they use for home infusions?

Or alternatively, does anyone use another base spirit instead?

Many thanks

High alcohol spirit is the key. Your average 40% gin gives washed out flavours when diluted down with fruit juice. In my opinion in anyway. So I imagine TWS high strength gin @ 50% will be a good starting point. Go easy on the sugar.

Last year I made a very successful liqueur with morello cherries & new make whisky (63%), hardly any added sugar. Tasted pretty disjointed initially but was fantastic & mellow by xmas (no whisky taste). Would have made more this year but the pigeons stripped the tree before the fruit had even ripened.



As with @lapin_rouge my advice is go strong (and dilute as required!). I use this as my base spirit for most infusions.


You’re not wrong there. Not so many years ago it was easy to buy 98 proof spirit from independent pharmacies in France for this very purpose. The interrogation prior to sale required saying something like “for tinctures” and moreover it was very cheap. Sloe and other fruit concoctions were excellent - of course after the maceration the result would be diluted 50/50 with water but it was a much better extraction than regular gin.

In France nowadays it’s not available - probably some sort of EEC party pooper regulation but you can get cheap supermarket rum from Martinique at 58 degrees which has a neutral flavour so I’ve made mock sloe gin with this, adding freshly picked juniper berries which come ripe at about the same time and tend to grow nearby. Not quite as good though.

Minimum alcohol pricing up here in Scotland means that all cheap gin is the same price (£18.75/litre for 37.5%abv). I make sloe gin every year as well as other random versions as and when resources allow (saffron and orange is my personal favourite but I do a really nice amaretto-style cherry gin from the trees in Holyrood Park). I like the basic juniper flavour of gin and I don’t think alcohol strengths above 37.5 contribute much in the way of flavour to justify the added expense and hassle. So I use whichever supermarket own brand is closest to hand.


I totally agree that it’s down to personal taste & min alcohol price rules. However, in defence of the high alc spirit - you can use LESS gin, so the fruit flavour is more concentrated. So more flavour in your glass, and less water. I tend to have a very small ‘nip’ glass.

That amaretto cherry gin does sound good however. Very good. There are some wild plum trees near me, I’m thinking of maybe doing them in a similar manner - how do you get the amaretto flavour?


Stone fruit (plums, apricots, cherries, almonds) kernels have varying amounts of amygdalin which produces both an almond flavour and cyanide. So I bash (as many as I can be bothered of) the cherry pits with a rolling pin and scrape the debris into the gin along with the fruit flesh. The same compound is also present in the leaves and stems of the fruit so, whilst I’m comfortable that my cherry gin won’t poison me, I’m careful with recipes for the French liqueur epine which uses sloe leaves. The bright red colour of the cherry gin is lovely but, unlike the purple of sloe gin, it’s fugitive so I have to store my supply out of sunlight to stop it turning a dull brown.