The date for this year’s Sloe Gin World Championships has been set for Sunday 10th December – the first time the event has been held at a weekend. The popular annual competition, back for its ninth year, is held at The George Inn in the village of Frant, near Tunbridge Wells.
This year’s championship will be tinged with a sadness following the death of founding Sloe Gin World Championship organising committee member, ‘Merlot’ Mike Matthews.
Friend and former Sloe Gin World Champion, Dave Bennet said in tribute: “Merlot Mike was a lovely man, whom I never once heard complain about the multiple sclerosis which disabled him.”
The proceeds of the Sloe Gin World Championships are donated to the MS Society, which supports people with multiple sclerosis.
Each year artisan and commercial sloe gin makers come from around the globe from to vie for the coveted ‘Sloe Ginster World Champion’ title.
The event began when pub locals began arguing over the perfect sloe gin recipe. Dating back to around 1750, The George Inn, a traditional country pub with cosy log fires, is said to make an ideal setting to judge the most traditional of Christmas liqueurs.
Sloe gin is made from ripe sloes that, by tradition, are picked after the first frost of winter. Each drupe should be hand-picked with a thorn taken from the blackthorn bush on which it grew. Some sloe gin connoisseurs say that the drupes may only be pricked by a silver pin or fork.
• For more information on entering the Sloe Gin World Championships, visit www.moondown.co.uk