Don't be confused by everything written about making sloe gin! When you try it yourself for the first time, Keep It Simple!
Here are some rules you will often see - but can safely ignore!
Wear genuine thornproof Harris Tweed when picking. Protection from the thorns of the blackthorn is a good idea, but dressing-up as a gamekeeper is entirely optional.
Wash the sloes thoroughly. If you feel better for washing, then a light rinse is all that's really necessary. Don't pick bird-fouled fruit in the first place!
Sterilise your bottles. Bah! Nonsense! You're filling with 40% gin, not baby milk. Brewers and wine makers must sterilise, but for us the best bottle is the one the original gin came in, or any other clean bottle.
Use pure silver needles to prick the sloes. Nice idea, but any method of pricking or cutting the sloes will do. Traditionally it was recommended to use the thorns of the blackthorn bush itself for this task.
Use Kilner jars or other wide necked containers. Most bottles are OK. There are many posts on the Forum which debate the merits of glass v plastic.
Tightly seal your bottles. Any old stopper will do. There is no pressure build-up during the making of sloe gin. Unlike wine and beer making, there is no fermentation, so there is no pressure. But a good seal is still desireable so the bottle can be shaken without spills.
Claims of improved strength are nonsense. The maximum alcohol strength of your sloe gin is entirely dependent on the strength of the gin you put in, and is probably slightly reduced by volume by the sugar and sloe juices. Many factors, however, can combine to give different flavour results - eg more or less sugar; more or less sloes; more or less time before decanting. Visit the FORUM !