A lamb in wolf’s clothing?
I am genuinely at a loss to know what to make of this Westcountry tipple, but if you examine the photograph Juliet took this morning, it has a lot in common with our ageing German Shepherd.
Josh looks big and scary to a lot of people, but he was bred by Guide Dogs, and only came to us because problems with his front elbows forced them to take him off the training programme. In truth he is one of the gentlest dogs I’ve ever known, and he won’t close his teeth on anything other than a biscuit.
I’m not saying Wicked Wolf hasn’t got any bite, the fact is though it doesn’t seem to last much past the first few sips; and I just don’t understand it.
I’m sitting here on a Sunday lunchtime, nursing a drop of the 42% small batch ‘premium’ gin, which is how I first sampled it when Juliet and I decided to purchase a bottle from Majestic in Exeter: a cash and carry scale outlet where you can sample various makes of gin, whisky and wine before you buy, while the staff are beyond helpful.
Dubbed “The Spirit of Exmoor”, the makers describe Wicked Wolf as combining 11 select botanicals that finely balance fresh citrus and spicy pepper notes, with the unique flavour of juniper and coriander. They go on to say the blend of botanicals and their distillation process delivers a “clean but gutsy” taste.
I can agree with that: it broadly sums up my first impressions of the neat stuff, and again when I added a dash of the tonic which Majestic also considerately puts out for customers. However, for some reason, that taste doesn’t endure and by the time I get to the fourth or fifth mouthful, that delightful dry spice suddenly disappears, and I’m left holding a goblet of lemon squash.
Yesterday evening, we decided to give the Wolf a second outing at home, and Juliet agreed with my suggestion to add a generous extra slug to our normal tot glass measure in one of the goblets. Again the first few sips were lovely, and then five minutes later on it was a case of: “Who nicked the gin?”
Now I’m no Inspector Clouseau, but I can draw on my long experience as a tippler, and therefore wondered if it is “something in the water”?
I should tell you here that whisky was my first love in the spirit world, and I’ve always preferred it neat. No ginger ale, no soda – perhaps a cube of ice in the height of summer – but definitely no water.
I know the Scots and fans of whisky worldwide will think I’m a Philistine, but to me putting a splash of water in even the best malts just ruins them. A friend of ours once brought Seagram’s marketing manager to dinner at our place, and she, bless her, brought a box of different blends she wanted some outside opinions on for her press releases. Sadly she insisted on adding a generous amount of water to each one.
Yes I get the aroma thing, but all I can discern on my much abused palete is Adam’s Wine. “Landlord you’ve been watering your optics, you should be taken out and shot!”
Not sure if you’ve all read the piece on our blog about a qualified barman’s opinion on the correct amount of ice to add, but in the interests of science and in being scrupulously fair to the people at the Old Chapel Brendon Ltd, about an hour ago I put a glass and a can of Fever Tree Indian tonic in the chest freezer, along with the half empty bottle of Wicked Wolf.
And now in front of me I have a G&T, as cold as a winter’s night on Exmoor, but without any ice in it. I’ve even left out a slice of lemon or lime in order to taste it as ‘dry’ as possible.
And the result? The glass was so cold it made my hand ache, while the mixer seemed to have gone slightly viscous through the temperature drop, giving the whole drink a slightly syrupy texture, while the dominant flavour was a sharp lemony citrus. I think I proved my theory, though, as that flavour endured to the bottom of the glass.
Would I buy another bottle of bottle of Wicked Wolf? Probably not when I can have Teignworthy John’s Black Dog gin for not much more – but if you prefer your canines to walk sedately to heel rather than throwing a rubber toy round the room and chasing squirrels, this Exmoor pussycat might be the perfect pet for you.