November 2008 - Lots of people have reported a severe shortage of sloes this year - I managed to find enough to make one batch of sloe gin, but many have not been so lucky.
So let's try an alternative liqueur - hawthorn brandy.
This is an experiment, so I'm not going to commit a full bottle of brandy - only about 300ml or so, measured out into a small bottle (that I'll save for the finished product). To this, I'm adding about three tablespoons of soft brown sugar, a few handfuls of my frozen Rome and Cockspur haws, plus a good bunch of very ripe common haws
I washed the fresh haws and dropped them into a large bottle along with the sugar and the frozen fruits (you always need a larger bottle than the one the liquor came in - because of the added volume of fruit).
The brandy was poured in and the whole lot was gently swilled around to dissolve the sugar.
Weird. A couple of days later and the larger haws have turned from red to yellow - the colour has either been leached out into the spirit, or chemically altered somehow.
One thing I did realise - I haven't pricked the fruit like I would have done for sloes - I'll have to improvise with something long and pointy, I think.
Late December 2008 - the haws have been steeping in the liquor for about two months now - time to take them out.
I strained the liquor into the bottle, there was more liquid than I started with - presumably a combination of juice from the fruits, plus the volume of the added sugar. It's cloudy at the moment so I will leave it to settle before finally decanting just the clear liqueur.
That's It For Now
I'll update the page again when it's completely finished - I did taste a little at this stage though - and it's quite incredible! - the liqueur has an intense, fresh apple/marzipan flavour, with other fruity notes that are difficult to adequately describe - a bit like ripe banana, but different...
Update - February 2010
The bottle lurked forgotten at the back of my cupboard for a year and a half - during which time the mealy sediment has settled out of suspension, leaving a brilliant rich amber liqueur.
The flavour has mellowed to a velvety-smooth, yet complex and fruity, warm sweetness. Maybe I should have made more.