When Monkey 47 first hit the shelves several years ago, there were many who just couldn’t fathom why there were so many botanicals. 47!
I wondered whether it was a gimmick, something to grab attention, and while it was certainly a talking point, would it be a guarantee of a good gin?
So, I sort of avoided it. I wasn’t sure it was for me, the die-hard juniper-junkie.
As time has passed and the gin craze shows no sign of abating, my puritanical views have come under fire a little (through some good-natured teasing by some of my bartender buddies) and I have learned to appreciate the contemporary and avant-garde gins available.
While celebrating a few exciting things happening at GQHQ, I decided to splurge and bought a bottle.
Monkey 47 is made in Germany, the Black Forest, to be precise and came about in one of most complicated ways.
Monty Collins was an RAF Wing Commander who was seconded to the Western part of Berlin in the late 40’s. After he left the service he moved to the Black Forest region as he wanted to learn how to make watches. When that didn’t work out he turned his hand to running a guest house. As the region is well-known for its fruit liqueurs, Monty decided to have a go at distilling and made Schwarzwald Dry Gin. The recipe was rediscovered about 40 years later and passed on to Alexander Stein one of the founders.
So where does the Monkey come from? During his time in Berlin, Monty sponsored an Egret Monkey named Max.
Monkey 47 Botanicals
Before you count them, there are not the full 47 listed here, there are several types of pepper that I’ve just listed as pepper.
- angelica root
- acacia flowers
- bramble leaves
The others are: juniper berries, pepper, acacia, Sweet Flag (often used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg), almond, orange, blackberry, cardamom, cassia, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon verbena, cloves, coriander, cranberries, cubeb, dog rose, elderflower, ginger, Grains of Paradise, hawthorn berries, ambrette, Rose mallow or rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus), honeysuckle, jasmine, Kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, licorice, Scarlet bee balm, nutmeg, orris, pimento, pomelo, rosehip, sage, and sloe.
You’ll notice the high volume of fruit and floral botanicals, but lots of spice too.
Aroma and tasting
As you’d expect Monkey 47 is highly aromatic. I noted citrus, floral and jam-like fragrances. On the palate it is very complex. Light citrus with stone fruit flavours and a warm lengthy finish with spice notes coming through. It’s a rich, full, smooth gin.
And if you were wondering if could I pick out all 47 botanicals? The answer is no.
However, I was amazed at the balance of the spirit that Christoph Keller, the master distiller, has achieved.
Drinking Monkey 47
As usual, we tried Monkey 47 in a G&T, a Negroni (1:1:1) and a Martini (3:1).
The Gin and tonic (we used Fevertree) was light and refreshing. We brough out the floral notes with a lavender garnish. In a Negroni, while a delicious drink, it struggled to stand up to the Campari. I think I’d play with the ratios next time, or swap the Campari for Aperol. I made the martini dryer than I usually do to give the gin a chance. It was a lovely drink, but I did miss the little punch of juniper. Both Mr GQ and I think this is a great sipping gin.
If you like contemporary gins that are full of flavour, but not heavy on the juniper then Monkey 47 is a good choice. The higher than average price point is worth it for the quality.
Country of Origin: Germany