Exmoor Ales was the first brewery to produce a golden ale with Exmoor Gold back in the 1980s, while Wicked Wolf was the first gin-maker on Exmoor. So it seems only right that the two of them have got together to produce the limited-edition Exmoor Gold Gin, the first gin to incorporate in its ingredients a distillation of beer.
The two drinks’ producers are no strangers to one another, having worked together to produce Wicked Wolf, a 4.2% juniper-infused golden ale, released under the brewery’s ‘Exile’ range of beers. This time, though, it is the gin-maker’s chance to take the spotlight with a limited-edition 42% gin.
Pat Patel is the co-founder of Wicked Wolf, which is based in the lush and breathtakingly beautiful Lorna Doone countryside around the village of Brendon. “The idea for both the juniper-infused ale and the gin came from a meeting, which was originally about Exmoor Ales distributing our gin,” he says. “I just thought that as we both wanted to promote Exmoor it made sense working together to produce an ale and a gin.
“For the gin, we take Exmoor Gold and double distil this to create a distillate which is basically a smooth beer schnapps; we then use this as a botanical distillate when blending the gin. Our process for making our gins remains the same, in that we distil each botanical individually, to capture the total range of flavour, then blend to our recipe, giving us a smooth, fuller-flavoured gin.”
According to Exmoor Ales Managing Director, Jonathan Price, “With Wicked Wolf on Exmoor already supplying most of our regular pubs on Exmoor with their gin, it made sense to collaborate. Our head brewer made a joke about an Exmoor beer-influenced gin, which then inspired Pat to experiment with both Exmoor Gold and Exmoor Beast, producing astounding results. Exmoor Gold Gin is the first and borrows the brewery branding…perhaps Exmoor Beast might follow.
“As for the flavour of the gin, it is subtle and beguiling and clearly a gin out of the Wicked Wolf den. There is not the slightest taste of beer, but instead a rich creaminess to the spirit as is the hallmark of the beer. Both distillery and brewery are very pleased with the result and also excited that we can collaborate to produce this taste of Exmoor. Dare I also say, it will make a wonderful Christmas present for the beer and gin connoisseur.”
Wicked Wolf was set up by Pat and wife Julie Heap in 2015. They had met in college in Falmouth and then moved to London and worked in graphic design. During this time they discovered Brendon, fell in love with the village and bought the old chapel, from where they run their design business, also called Wicked Wolf. As for the name, it comes from a pub in London where the couple used to meet.
“When we moved to Exmoor we looked to do something that was about our interests,” says Patel. “I have always had an interest in food and flavours and smoke food as a hobby; cheese and sausages for instance. We also love gin — we have between 30 and 40 bottles of different gins in our collection. So going on to making it was a natural progression.
“We wanted to make a good standard gin where there would be an exemplary balance of 11 botanicals in our unique blend. With this in mind we used dried Seville orange and lemon peel and also added lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, which give a more complex citrusy note. However, the flavours produced by grains of paradise, juniper and coriander, which are traditional gin flavours, remain the backbone of the gin. Business is going well; we have expanded and added an extension for the distillery to increase production. We sell nationally and into Europe and are in talks to export to Asia.”
The company currently produces four gins:
Exmoor Gin, 42%, RRP £35
Full Moon limited edition, 42%, RRP £38
Exmoor Gold limited edition, 42%, RRP £38 (only 1000 have been made)
Silver Bullet limited edition, 57%, RRP £57 (only 300 have been made)