Gin for the militant masses.
“He’ll be back. He’ll miss Halifax or wherever he lives. He’ll miss kippers or custard; wildcat strikes.” So said Fletch in Porridge about a fellow inmate who had escaped Slade Prison for life in Acapulco – but the fact that instead of leaping leopards this new gin brought flying pickets to mind – while the “Knock three times” line on the label conjured up the chorus to Tony Orlando’s crass 70s hit – marks me out as barren ground for the modern marketing manager.
Hence, having secured a bottle of Wildcat Gin during one of our lockdown expeditions to the shops for essential supplies, I took a look at the distiller’s website, where I was intrigued to learn that the brand is supposed to be the spirit of the night. Surprisingly there is little other information on the lavishly illustrated pages other than a tale of skulduggery to eclipse Old Bakery’s back story.
A wider search brought up a brief profile of Wildcat’s launch from the Scottish Field magazine, where Whyte & Mackay’s UK General Manager, Mike Gregg, recounted: “ As a business we recognised a key drinking occasion which is under served by current gin brands – night time – so Wildcat Gin is aimed at those who come to life after dark.”
Given that the distinctive citrus taste, embellished with ‘Cat’s Claw’ is intended to make it ideal for mixing, I guess I’m supposed hanker after sharing exotic cocktails with the likes of Cara Delevingne or Kate Moss in the private club above The Ivy. That’s a long way removed from the clandestine mid-18th century, ‘Black Cat’ gin den which made Captain Dudley Broadstreet’s fortune – and inspired Wildcat’s branding.
Compared to the dark feline presence of Navy Strength Beast, Wildcat is definitely a lightweight, but what I did get about this very reasonably priced 41.5% London Dry Gin was the flavour. Like many others that share its heritage, there are peppery overtones to the initial scent of juniper. Liquorice and angelica root also put in an appearance, along with coriander for additional spice, in a total contingent of 10 botanicals. And as W&M concede, Wildcat definitely works just as well with tonic, and in our case, a slice of pink grapefruit.
We’ve ended a few blogs with old records or a movie trailer, but rather than inflict either the excruciating “Knock three times on the ceiling” or the feature length Porridge on you, there’s a song by The Strawbs which properly summed up seventies industrial relations.