The legend of Monkey 47 Gin goes back to World War II.
Wing Commander Montgomery Collins of the Royal Air Force arrived in divided Berlin after the end of the war, and was deeply affected by the massive destruction of the German capital. He dedicated himself to the reconstruction of Germany, becoming especially devoted to the rebuilding of the Berlin Zoo, through which he came to sponsor an egret monkey by the name of Max.
In 1951, Collins left the Royal Air Force in 1951, and settled in the northern part of the Black Forest. He opened a country guesthouse, which he named The Wild Monkey in honor of his pal Max.
Years later, during a renovation at the inn, workers discovered a heavy old wooden box containing a dusty bottle and a letter. The bottle was hand decorated with a sketch of a monkey and the words “Max the Monkey–Schwarzwald Dry Gin.” The forgotten letter contained a detailed description of the plant ingredients in Montgomery’s recipe, from which Monkey 47 gin is reproduced.
Monkey 47 is seasoned with 47 handpicked botanicals, with about a third coming from the Black Forest region. They are prepared in extremely soft spring water from a local source, producing an unrivaled complexity and quality. The use of cranberries, long a Black Forest staple, adds a distinct fruity note to the floral and extreme mix of flavors.
It is also bottled at 47% ABV.
This innovative gin is indeed complex, but balanced and engaging. There are so many touches of fruit and herbs and spice that part of the fun of this gin is the challenge of studying it and working your way through the various elements that reveal themselves on your palate as it unfurls into its woody, dry finish.
Renowned critic Robert Parker called it the “the greatest gin I have ever tasted.” Its complexity and balance make it amazing martini gin. Uncorking the bottle is like opening the door to a drinking adventure.
Monkey 47 can be pricey, but it is worth the treat. You can find it, as well as other spirits and mixers of distinction, at Wyatt’s Wet Goods.