The Monkey has been sitting here patiently waiting his turn, so it’s about time to talk about the Monkey. Monkey 47 is special gin, it was one of the first gins I ever bought, and its one of my favourites, one that should always be in your drinks cabinet.
Let me explain. Monkey 47 is a gin distilled in the small Schwarzwald village of Loßburg-Betzweiler. A place so small that it only has a Wikipedia stub article. It’s what we would call a Kuhdorf (literally cow-village) in German.
Now the two good things Germans do well (if we discount football and making cars) are making Kräuterlikör (herb-based spirits) and Obstbrand (fruit-based spirits). That’s fortunate, given that Monkey 47 contains (as you may already guessed) an incredible 47 different botanicals, you need to be specially skilled to combine then in a great gin.
Naturally Monkey 47 has a great back-story. Apparently Wing Commander Montgomery “Monty” Collins was part of the British military charged with administering Berlin after World War 2. Based in Berlin, he took special interest in the re-building of the Berlin Zoo. This eventually ended up in him sponsoring a monkey called Max. After leaving the army Monty moved to the Black Forest and ended up opening a Gasthaus “Zum wilden Affen” (the Wild Ape) in honour of Max. Naturally Monty being a) British b) born in India and c) living in the Black Forest, needed to make his own gin for the proverbial G&T he enjoyed from his time in India. The story then gets a little faded, but apparently Monty’s recipe was eventually found by the current producers and reproduced to make the Monkey 47.
Enough of the marketing, lets talk about the botanicals. Naturally it’s going to be impossible to name and taste them all, however the Monkey 47 website highlights some of the most important. Beyond the juniper you have angelica, acacia flower, coriander, spruce shoots, marsh-mallow, bramble leaves, grains of paradise and lingonberries (Ger. Preiselbeere). To summarise, there’s lots to taste. Now on to the scorecard.
Day or Night Gin ? Surprisingly it’s up at 47%, so consider inviting the Monkey for the evening.
What does it smell of ? Starts out Pine-y (are those spruce shoots ?), a little citrus, slightly floral and slightly earthy. It’s a monkey for all seasons!
What does it taste of ? Dare I say, complex. Angelica comes to the fore, plus some citrus notes as well as a bitterness followed by a warm spicy finish. Normally you would find it a little odd to drink gin pure, however in Germany there is the tradition to drink a spirit at the end of the meal, “etwas zum schließen” as we say in German. Monkey 47 is interesting enough to enjoy like this. It stands up well in a Gin and Tonic, as ever it pays to get a good tonic, for example Fever-tree‘s, or even the strong-willed 28 Drinks tonic water.
Buy it ? It used to be quite hard to find, but I suspect supply is getting better everywhere. I bought mine from my local Galleria Kaufhof, who have a surprisingly good selection. Prices hover around the €32 mark for 500ml.
Overall 5/5 Time to bring the Monkey home.