Monday, September 16, 2013

Sloe, sloe, quick, quick, sloe

Making pacharán

A few years ago my cousin's husband introduced me to some of his home-made pacharán and ever since then, whenever we've been eating out in Spain, I will usually have a little glass of pacharán on ice - for medicinal purposes, you understand!

Pacharán is a speciality of the Basque region, but is available all over Spain. It's a drink made from aniseed alcohol flavoured mostly with sloes and I've yet to meet anyone, apart from non-drinkers, who doesn't like it.

On our return from a short stay in Spain this past summer, I decided to have a go at making it myself at home. My first hurdle was finding the sloes. I've never picked sloes before and had only a vague idea what they looked like. They are, of course, the fruit of the blackthorn, or prunus spinosa, and resemble a small blue/black plum.

I read somewhere that they shouldn't be picked before the first frost but, as I didn't want to leave it to chance, I decided to give the sloes a "false frost" by putting them in the freezer for a day or two.

Ready for their "false frost"

 I only had a 70cl bottle of aniseed, so decided to add about 180g of sloes. Other flavourings are a small handful of dark roasted coffee beans, a piece of cinnamon stick and about just over half of a vanilla pod. In one recipe I saw, instead of vanilla, a few chamomile flowers were added.

All the ingredients

Put all the ingredients into a wide-necked bottle or jar, close the lid securely and shake.

Shaken not stirred

And now comes the slow, slow (or should that be sloe, sloe!) wait for three months until it is ready to filter through muslin and drink. By my reckoning, it should be ready in time for Christmas!

Update 15.12.13

This evening I finally bottled and tasted the two batches I made; one flavoured with the vanilla pod and the other with a few camomile flowers. I'm pleased to say, it has passed the taste test :-)


  1. Glad you managed to find some sloes - Can't wait to hear from you how it turns out! Good Luck x

  2. Hi Sue (Navas)
    The biggest problem, here in Andalucía, is finding sloes - they just don't grow around here. They may well do so ''oop north'' on the coast of the Bay of Biscay where it can be appreciably cooler - here, in Castillo de Locubín, where we have loads of cherries, they make a similar drink using cherries and aguardiente (your aniseed flavoured alcohol) and it is known locally as ''cherry wine''
    Alan (baldilocks)

    1. I thought you probably wouldn't get sloes in Andalucia, but at least a bottle of pacharán would be cheap to buy down there if you wanted it, probably less than 10 Euros. The trouble is to buy a bottle where I live, which amazingly I can, costs about £20 and even more if I were to buy it online!That was what motivated me to try and make the stuff! I'm going to make a second batch this weekend as I still have some sloes in the freezer. This time I will use chamomile flowers instead of the vanilla pod. It'll be interesting to compare the flavours. Have you tried to make the "cherry wine"?


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