Few drinks have almost starved a nation. Gin is one of them. In the 18th century it was so popular that Great Britain nearly ran out of food – all their grain went to the distilleries, not the bakers. Sloe gin is less commonly guzzled, but that’s only because people don’t really know what it is (sloe refers to the berry, not the time it takes to distil). Turns out Tasmania is a fine place to make sloe gin; the fresh water and maritime climate suit Old English distilling, and the place is riddled with sloe berries. Bill McHenry of William McHenry & Sons Distillery made it his home in 2010, moving from pharmaceuticals to the distillery work his ancestors had in their blood six generations ago. McHenry adds the plum-like sloe berries to his classic dry gin, made with orange peel, orris root and star anise. Drink it on its own over crushed ice, mix it with vodka and orange juice, or try as a champagne cocktail. The ‘sloe screw’, they call it. Charming. CH


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