Wildcat’s Tale

The life and uncommon adventures of Captain Dudley Bradstreet

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London,
1739

In Georgian London, gin had become such a menace to society it had been outlawed. Captain Dudley Bradstreet – an Irish rogue and adventurer, recently arrived in London – conceived a cunning ruse to evade the authorities and make his fortune. He discerned the recently-passed Gin Act did not empower the excise men to break down doors, nor to prosecute gin sellers if their identity remained unknown. He set upon a scheme to sell gin in secret...

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Bradstreet's "Scheme of Puss"

Bradstreet secured rooms under a pseudonym and hung the sign of a black cat over his window. He let it be known that a knock, a whispered word, and placement of money in the cat’s mouth would see a generous measure of gin dispensed. In his own words; “This scheme of puss was a great success, netting me considerable fortune.”

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A scoundrel's life

Unfortunately for Bradstreet, his scheme proved all too easy to copy. Cat signs appeared across London and a new gin craze was born. Bradstreet retired from the illicit gin business, frittering away his gains on drink, gambling, and women. He dabbled in theatre, tried his hand as a magician, and became embroiled with the law in an ill-fated attempt to set up a brewery. In 1755 he was to make another fortune with the publication of his scandalous memoir – The Life And Uncommon Adventures of Captain Dudley Bradstreet.

Bradstreet died in 1763 – an infamous rogue who lived life to the full: our inspiration for Wildcat Gin.

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