Bullace Gin

Image of bullace gin

I can’t help noticing that there’ve been a lot of people looking at my bullace jam recipe lately and I thought another use for these tasty wild plums might not go amiss.

They’re growing in profusion again this year and they have a wonderful flavour, but because they’re tiny and are mostly skin and stone, they’re not the easiest things to cook with.

May I therefore present (loud fanfare) Mrs Portly’s Bullace Gin. You don’t have to stone the little blighters to make it and it tastes sublime. The only drawback is that you have to wait at least three months before you can drink it (and preferably much longer).

You can use the same recipe for black bullaces, sloes and damsons, although it’s a good idea (if laborious) to prick sloes if you’re using them, to let the juices run. I know people say freezing works but in my experience it doesn’t unless they’re very ripe.

A note on the sugar: I prefer my fruit gins not too sweet. I’ve taken a middle position here but if you’re in any doubt, go with a smaller quantity then taste it when you bottle it. If it’s not sweet enough, add some concentrated sugar syrup.

Bullace Gin

  • Servings: makes approx 2 x 70cl bottles
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Image of bullaces in preserving jar with gin and sugar600-650g white bullaces (actually they’re green-gold), rinsed and any leaves and stalks removed

100-150g sugar (I used golden caster)

Up to 1.5 litres of gin


Half-fill a 2 litre preserving jar with bullaces, add the sugar and top up with gin. Seal the jar and give it a shake every day until the sugar has dissolved, then store in a cool dark place for at least three months.

Then strain the gin through a sterilised wrung-out muslin cloth and bottle it up. The longer you leave it, the better it gets, but it’s a sore temptation when it’s sitting in the cupboard winking at you.

It’s up to you what you do with the gin-soaked bullaces at this point. My sister once made a seriously alcoholic pie with the leftovers from damson gin but the stone-to-fruit ratio in bullaces is probably too high. Perhaps a boozy version of the wild plum jam …

20 thoughts on “Bullace Gin

    • Hi Michael and Linda – blackberries are fine and they make a lovely drink. A friend of ours has just made blackberry whisky to a similar recipe but you can use vodka or gin. Good luck!

  1. Hi everyone,when you have finish straining your bullaces/sloes or whatever if you can be bothered to destone some of them,put put them into individual paper cake cases in a neat pile then pour melted chocoloate of your choice over them,let cool before eating.if served also with either whipped or clotted cream as a finishing touch then thats a double whamy.It is well worth the effort.Keith

    • Hi Shane, there’s no reason why not. Some people make a Hedgerow Gin by chucking in a few hips and haws, too. I’d just make sure none of the blackberries is at all mouldy. Cheers! Linda

      • No problem stoning bullaces with a cherry-stoner – that’s what I do when I make bullace jam, which is well worth the effort. In fact, I’ll be making some this week.

        Because the stones are large in relation to the fruit the cyanide risk is greater, and I don’t believe the GH suggestion that cooking removes the cyanide. I once tried stewing bullaces without removing the stones and my wife and I both felt light-headed after eating them. Since then I’ve always removed most or all of the stones (except when making gin). Better safe than sorry!

  2. I once made a wine from equal measures of Sloes and Bullaces – it ended up as a rose – it was a sweet desert wine and it was sublime.

    • Hi Louise, I haven’t tried it but yes, I don’t see why not. You might want to mix them with some fresh plums, depends on the flavour profile you want and how much pectin they still contain. Cheers, Linda

    • Hi Clare, it’s supposed to help with sloes because they’re so hard, although in my experience they have to be fairly ripe already for it to make a difference. Although some autumn fruits are picked after the first frosts I’m not sure freezing them makes a difference in flavour here – and if you waited that long for bullace there wouldn’t be any!

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