Sloe Gin - Christmas in August

Picking sloes is a pleasant diversion,

For an hour or two.

Despite the long, ever present thorns.

This year the Blackthorns are drooping under the weight.

Of the ever so bitter black fruit.

The kids enjoy the picking but would rather have berries they could eat.

I look forward to the process which follows the same process each August and September:

Freezing the washed berries to release the flavours and the colour,

Filling the one litre bottles one third full with the fruit,

Adding a cup of brown sugar,

Filling the bottles with good vodka or doppelkorn,

Sealing, and then storing them in the dark.

The flavour of the gin is enhanced by the anticipation,

The weekly shaking of the bottles, a welcome routine.

Four long months before the first bottle may be opened,

On Christmas Eve,

The bright ruby liqueur as much a part of the festival,

As the tree and bright-eyed children.

My Christmas begins in August.

This summer was kind to the blackthorn.

If not to me.

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