Bottles of damson gin

Making the annual damson gin

This is the crowd pleaser recipe, and has developed a following among friends, neighbours and family after quite a few years. It’s a superb sundowner drink with ice and tonic on a sunny evening in the summer, but also makes for a tasty, sweet warming glass to sip neat in the winter. I’ve tried commercial damson and sloe gins and there’s no comparison, there’s a complexity to the stone fruit flavours when making your own that shines through, alongside a reduced sugar content.

Damson gin




The time consuming part of this is gathering and picking over the damsons; the rest is pretty quick to do.
You’ll be left with lots of amazingly boozy damsons (with the stones still in). Use these to make a batch of damson port. Or, if you have the patience, take the stones out (which you can do by hand as they’ll be pretty soft, or with a small knife). You can then use these in a trifle or cake, or eat with yoghurt. They’re quite powerful, so you can also mix them with other fruit to take the edge off.


  • 500g whole damsons

  • 350g granulated or caster sugar

  • 1l gin


  • Making the gin
  • Plant your damson tree and wait 15 years for it to fruit. Luckily for us the previous owner of our house had already completed this step.
  • Gather the damsons as they come off the tree, and only collect whole ones that aren’t squishy. I tend to do this every few days during a week or two in the summer.
  • Rinse and pick over the fruit to retain the good ones, and store them in the freezer.
  • When you’ve got all your fruit, get it out of the freezer, and discard any obviously bad ones. Add the fruit, sugar and gin to a big jar (I use 2l kilner jars). It is OK if the damsons are still frozen.
  • Give the jar a good shake. Store in a cool place, and shake every few days or so until the sugar has dissolved
  • Leave for 3-4 months. I’m harvesting in August and bottling in December usually.
  • Bottling
  • Use a sieve to get just the liquid
  • Then pass it through cheesecloth or a similar filter into a nice bottle
  • Label it, and you have a nice gift!


  • I use the cheapest supermarket own brand London Dry gin usually, as the dominant flavour in the end will come from the damsons and sugar anyway
  • I recommend World of Bottles (Flaschenland) for lovely quality heavy glass bottles from Germany at a very reasonable price.