Thursday 26 March 2020


This particular clump of local blackthorn is always one of the last to come into flower, but it's getting there now, and at the right sort of time. We haven't had a 'blackthorn winter' this year – the spell of bitter cold that is traditionally associated with the blackthorn flowering – though there has been a little frost from time to time, once the rains and winds had died down.
  Cobbett was a great fan of the blackthorn, especially its fruit (sloes), the pulp of which he used to eat as a boy, gummy and astringent though it is. 'The juice expressed from this pulp,' he declares, 'mixed with water, in which a due proportion of logwood has been steeped, receiving, in addition, a sufficient proportion of cheap French brandy, makes the finest Port wine in the world.' A large claim, but to Cobbett it was no doubt self-evident that a home-made English concoction would be superior to anything Oporto could produce. For myself, I think I'll stick to sloe gin – but if anyone's tried sloe Port I'd be interested to hear from them... Maybe the dauntless drinkers over at Sediment?


  1. "'Anybody like a glass of Polish vodka?' I sometimes ask my guests, exhibiting an unlabelled bottle of colourless drink. (It is four parts potheen, one part Burmese rice gin.) They pretend to consider, then decline, saying a drop of Irish would suit them if there was such a thing in the house. There isn't but they still get it. (The prescription is parts 2 sherry wine, parts 2 Scotch, and parts 3 turps.)"

    Flann O'Brien, collected in Further Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn.

  2. Brilliant! Thanks George.

  3. We'll try anything!

    (It just might be a little tricky at the moment getting out to purchase the port, let alone find the blackthorn...)