Saturday, 29 December 2007

Rockingham Forest Slider

With Christmas pretty much put to bed for another year, this weekend had been earmarked for work in the garden. Our modestly sized vegetable plots are now almost empty of produce, so I spent most of the day picking up feed-bags of rotted horse manure from a stables across the valley in Great Easton. Very satisfying work, but bloody hard going, and not helped by the chilly gales whipping down the valley today. Whilst shovelling the aromatic muck onto the bare earth my mind was firmly on the reward of a warming alcoholic drink and a welcome 'feet-up' with a Christmas film or two. The time seemed right to see how our little Slider experiment had turned out.

The Sloes have done their job and can finally be consigned to the compost bin. We tried the Rockingham Forest Slider first, which had emerged a lovely pale pink, with an aroma very similar to that of Sloe Gin itself. The taste is basically that of a much lighter Sloe Gin, with a little added sharpness from the cider, and very easy-drinking. If you like Sloe Gin, you'll love this 'longer' version, which slips down rather too much like a soft drink for comfort. The Tillington Hills Slider was slightly sweeter, and equally easy-drinking, but had a slightly bitter aftertaste. This wasn't exactly unpleasant, and perhaps even added a certain 'grown-up' edge to the drink. All in all a very successful bit of alchemy, and definitely worth repeating with a few tweaks next year.

Drinking the Slider's on such a miserable day weather wise, got me thinking about hot drinks. The slightly herbal flavours of the Slider struck me as being ideal for the mulling process, so as a final experiment we microwaved up a mug of the Tillington Hills Slider until hot and steamy. This was a huge success and even got the thumbs up from Karen, who isn't too keen on Gin, and was a reluctant taster of the two Sliders to begin with. Even without any added spices (which I'm sure would improve the flavour still more) the hot Slider was equal to any Gluhwein I've tried, and I feel this is probably the ultimate expression of this winning combination. What could be more apt at this time of year than a mug of hot mulled Slider, perhaps even as the perfect accompaniment to a Winter Wassail should you be lucky enough to attend one.

If you would like to try a commercial version of Slider, there is one available from the Liquer makers Bramley & Gage, though they are currently out of stock until the end of January.

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