After the recent news about a ‘giant’ fox shot in Maidstone, Kent – it was about twice the size of a normal fox, that is to say the same size as a coyote (see picture) – I have found something else of foxy interest on a bottle of booze.
From my local independent retailer of fine inebriates I picked up a bottle by perhaps my favourite cider manufacturers, Dunkertons in Herefordshire. Dunkertons make the finest perry I’ve ever tasted and grow alomost-extinct apple and pears in their own organic orchards, pressing them in an 18th century mill. But I digress (in fact, I’m drooling) – this particular brand, previously unknown to me, is a 7% cider called ‘Black Fox’.
The name comes, states the label, from a piece of rural folklore – also unknown to me. Dunkertons informs us: ‘From earlier times, rural communities have told stories of fantastic creatures which have supposedly lived in their location. The lush rolling countryside of North West Herefordshire is no exception. Here stories tell of an animal which has evaded capture by farmer and huntsman alike: a Black Fox. The red fox has always existed but belief grew that there was a fox ‘as black as night, so that it might live in man’s shadow and never be seen’. A favoured haunt of the Black Fox is… the cider orchard.’
Genuine folk belief or a bit of cider-fuelled fantasy? I’d be interested to learn more.