I have two liquid passions: one is tea, the other is gin.
I think my Mother’s Godmother introduced me to gin, probably before I was in my teens. She was a Shropshire farmer’s wife and about 4’10” high, wiry and the best cook of my youth (even accounting for the fact that my Mum was a trained chef!) Gin was something that was drunk in small quantities before dinner. Not a bad way to be brought up 🙂
Whilst at university in Aberystwyth, gin (and it had to be Gordon’s) was the only alcohol I kept in my room initially. (It was later augmented by a selection of malt whisky, but that’s another story). This eventually contributed to a piece of history – ‘hacker’ history.
Early on in my uni life I had met a group of computer science and/or maths students, who er, did strange things on computers in darkened rooms, often late at night, or… well, more early morning really.
It was 1987/8… strange things were about to happen on something called the internet. In the meantime people who knew about this stuff used things like ‘Bullet’ and multi-user dungeon games, like Aber-MUD. I, didn’t have a clue about this stuff (still don’t). But to this day some of the people involved with creating these parts of computer history remain my friends.
The second part of the original ‘Bullet’ party of Feb ’88 was, at least in part, held in my room at Plynlimon Hall, Aberystwyth. Late at night, the ‘cocktail’ of choice (something called a “Mile’s End”) was in need of additional experimentation. The only alcohol to hand was mine – and therefore it was Gordon’s gin that was added, to create something called “The Master Blaster”. This substance is highly drinkable, because it’s tastes totally harmless. But it is also lethal! The details of how to mix both links, with Alec Muffett’s additional memories can be found here Miles End – Master Blaster
I hasten to add, that I barely had more than a sip (honest) but was therefore the one making the strong coffee late next morning when the human wreckage that resulted returned to ‘life’!
In the years that passed, I stuck to my supplies of Gordon’s gin, regularly augmented by gifts from friends. Then I started training for ministry.
I’m not sure why that changed my gin drinking habits, but it did. First, a friend introduced me to Bombay Sapphire, and then to Tanquery. In fact I was presented with a bottle of Tanquery as a licensing present, and I’ve now discovered it’s the gin of choice among some of the funeral directors with whom I work on occasion!
But I still had rather a lot of Gordon’s stockpiled. So early last autumn (probably the end of August in fact) we went and picked some sloes. I much preferred the Bombay Sapphire and the Tanquery, so after labouriously pricking holes in the sloes, we added sugar, and then drowned the lot in the remains of my Gordon’s Gin. (Very approximately it was 1lb sloes to 4oz castor sugar, and 75cl of gin.) We then placed the jam jars in the cupboard in the shed for 3 months.
At Christmas, I had a rather fab liqueur which I then gently worked my way through in the early weeks of this year. It was good, but not as good as the stuff my father had made, but he picked riper sloes well into September.
Since then, in conversation with Fr Timothy at Alton Abbey (on St David’s Day, which was why we could talk at meal times) I have discovered that his preferred method of making Sloe Gin, is to pick and freeze the ripe sloes in Sept/October, and then make the Sloe Gin at a later date… without the need for fiddly pricking of sloe skins with a darning needle, as the process of freezing breaks the skins. So that’s what I’m going to try and do this year (though I need to buy some Gordon’s to do so!)
So there you go. If you were even faintly interested, and have read this far, that is the story of things I’ve done with gin.