Monkey 47 Gin

I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Monkey 47 gin.

The origins of Monkey 47 could have come from some sort of work of fiction. The original recipe is credited to one Wing Commander Mongomery Collins; born in 1909 in Madras in British India to a British Diplomat, he was posted to Germany in 1945, after World War 2. It is said that Montgomery was deeply affected by the destruction of Berlin and resolved to support the reconstruction of Germany and took a personal hand in rebuilding the Berlin Zoo. During this work he came to sponsor an Egret Monkey by the name of Max.

On leaving the Air Force, he opened a guest-house in the Black Forest, which he called “Zum wilden Affen” (the Wild Monkey) – notice the theme building?

Juniper was abundant in the Black Forest and being an English Gentleman, Montgomery enjoyed his gin. Decades later, during renovation of the guest house, a wooden box was discovered, which contained a hand-labelled bottle and some papers. The bottle’s label had a hand-drawn monkey and bore the moniker “Max the Monkey – Schwarzwald Dry Gin”. The papers included all manner of notes and photographs, but critically a list of ingredients used to create the gin, many of which came from the Black Forest region as well as some familiar spices from India.

The botanical list is formidable, running to a massive 47 ingredients (hence the 47 in the name). I have only managed to piece-together 41 from the bottle, the website and the internet at large.

Monkey 47 Gin

Monkey 47 Gin

  • Acacia
  • Acorus Calamus
  • Almond
  • Angelica
  • Bitter Orange
  • Blackberry
  • Cardamom
  • Cassia
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon
  • Citron Verbena
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Cranberries
  • Cubeb
  • Dog Rose
  • Elderflower
  • Ginger
  • Grains Of Paradise
  • Hawthorne Berries
  • Hibiscus Abelmoshus
  • Hibiscus Syriacus
  • Honeysuckle
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper
  • Kaffir Lime
  • Lavender
  • Monkey 47 Logo

    Monkey 47 Logo - The botanical list is so long, I have room for another image.

    Lemon
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Licorice
  • Lingonberries
  • Mondara Didyma
  • Nutmeg
  • Orris
  • Pimento
  • Pomelo
  • Rose Hip
  • Sage
  • Sloe
  • Spruce

 

Monkey 47 is a fairly potent gin at 47% and comes in 500ml bottles.

Where the Hendrick’s bottle is what a designer imagines an apothecary’s bottle to be like, the Monkey 47 bottle actually is what they were like; smooth, round-shouldered, thin neck and a broad lip; it is like something from a moth-balled chemistry lab.

The bottle is stoppered with a simple straight-sided cork, again like something from a chemistry lab (before rubber bungs became common). Girding the cork is an engraved metal ring bearing the Latin words “EX PLURIBUS UNUM”, which means “Out of many, one” and was once one of the three mottos on the US seal (changed in 1956 to “In God we trust”). Presumably, in this context, it refers to the one product coming from the very many botanicals.

The neat gin is rich and aromatic, with a complex nose. Tasting rewards the mouth with an incredibly intense journey that encompasses herbal, floral, citrus, fruity and spice notes aplenty. There is a familiar resinous flavour that is reminiscent of both Adnams Copperhouse and (less so) Tanqueray 10; indeed, both Hibiscus and Chamomile make an appearance in Monkey 47. The juniper is definitely there, but the supporting cast is like an orchestra. Clear among these is pine, or rather I suspect spruce, which supports the juniper with clear crispness.

The floral and herbal notes are clear and powerful; there is a slight geranium taste and I think there is a honeysuckle/jasmine flavour identifiable. A hint of pomelo is present (redolent of Bloom and Whitley Neill). This is the fruitiest gin I have ever tasted and it is smooth to boot.

Initially, I had thought that this was purely a sipping gin which would be a crime to mix, but trying it with tonic water was a revelation. The finer points of the aromatic flavours really come alive; the citrus comes out and the floral & herbaceous notes veritably explode. The finish is long, dry and spicy and herbal.

Every stage, the attack, middle and finish of Monkey 47 is complex and different from the last. Each mouthful is an engaging roller-coaster of discovery and joy, and it never gets old. It is an intriguing gin and difficult to leave alone. I desperately need to get my hands on more, but at a production of only 2,500 bottles per year, it is hard to find and the price reflects this; at about £38 for 500ml, Monkey 47 gin is probably the most expensive in-production gin I have tried. Is it worth the price? Yes, but as a treat.

Edit – Incidentally, the ring on the cork appears to be the same size as my wedding ring. Size U.

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41 thoughts on “Monkey 47 Gin

  • January 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm
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    MONKEY GIN.

    4th para reads;

    Juniper was abundant in the Black Forest and being and English Gentleman,……

    Shoud the second “and” be an.

    Reply
    • January 30, 2012 at 12:49 am
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      Sloppy editing; thanks.

      A wise man once said: “Write drunk; edit sober.”
      (Ernest Hemingway)

      Reply
  • April 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm
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    Great gin, nice article. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • May 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm
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    If anyone wants to try a special version of it I can highly recommend the distillers cut of monkey. They limit this ” version” of just a few bottles a year, and every year the distillers cut is a little but different of the tastes.

    Reply
    • June 18, 2012 at 9:15 am
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      Thanks for bringing that to my attention – Monkey 47 is an awesome gin and I am very keen to try the distiller’s cut.

      Reply
  • June 30, 2012 at 7:00 am
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    Tried Monkey 47 last night in the hotel bar in Zurich. Mixed with tonic water, it was superb! Now looking for a bottle to bring home!

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    • June 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm
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      Glad you liked it – you’re right, it is superb.

      Reply
  • July 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm
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    Just bought a bottle and can’t wait to try (won’t be able to wait till tonight’s guests arrive, that’s for sure)

    Reply
  • July 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm
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    Very well written, and in-depth review!

    But do you know where the Schwarzwald name originates from?

    Reply
    • August 31, 2012 at 8:04 pm
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      It means “black forest”, and I had assumed that it is because it originates in the Black Forest region.

      Reply
  • August 10, 2012 at 10:55 am
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    Fab Quote! “Write drunk; edit sober.”
    (Ernest Hemingway)

    Reply
  • December 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm
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    Thanks for this excellent, in depth, review. I recently bought a bottle and I agree with everything you say; it is well worth seeking out!

    Reply
  • January 9, 2013 at 7:03 pm
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    Very good review. Just tried it for the first time a few moments ago. This is the most complex tasting drink I’ve ever had. It starts off incredibly powerful on your palete and begins to mellow as you drink more. It really is quite special. A must for any real lover of high quality premium gin.

    Reply
  • January 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm
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    Excellent article. Since my family knows one of the partners in the distillery, I had the privilege to be sipping Monkey 47 for over two years now and am bringing it to the US bottle by bottle, having resolved to never run out nof it again.

    A proud “Black Forestian” (is that a word?) in “exile”….

    Reply
    • January 25, 2013 at 11:36 am
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      You are very lucky indeed.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm
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    This Gin is the best I have ever tried it has depth in flavour tried it in a bar in Exeter Devon England I had three large ones with tonic ice and lemon glorious :)

    Reply
  • March 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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    Interesting review. I found a bottle of this on the island of Sylt a couple of days ago, and it is indeed a very good gin with a complex taste.

    However, the ‘Montgomery Collins’ marketing guff I would take with a fistful of salt. An obvious tall story.

    Reply
    • August 11, 2013 at 10:08 pm
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      Many gins come with a big pile of guff these days; it’s all part of the Unique selling point. It gives me something to orite about too. 😉

      Reply
  • March 31, 2013 at 1:16 am
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    In Paris, it can be found at the Maison du Whisky, in the Carrefour de L’Odeon. As all the commenters have said, it is a marvelous gin. The only sad thing about it is that you can’t get it in the US, whereI live!

    Reply
  • April 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm
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    I live in the UK and trying to find a bottle of Monkey 47 as a present – where can I find it? I cannot find it in supermarkets…
    thanks

    Reply
    • August 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm
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      It can be difficult to find in a bricks-and-mortar store but it can be found at a lot of online retailers.

      Reply
  • April 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm
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    Hello dear Spirit lovers,

    You of you could put me in contact with an exporter to the US/Mexico or would like to be connected to an importer in Mexico? We’re dying to get the stuff here on the paradise beaches of the Riviera Maya…

    Warm regards.

    Reply
    • August 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm
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      Unfortunately I don’t have any relevant contacts to put you in touch with; you are probably best contacting them through their website.

      Reply
  • April 25, 2013 at 9:44 pm
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    Wow, great article about a superb gin. I tried it for the first time last week, ready to shout out how it doesn’t live up to the great press it has been getting. Well, I must say, it is truely the most exciting and complex gin I’ve ever had. Thanks for the spot on review and interesting background story! Cheers!

    Reply
    • August 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm
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      My pleasure.

      Reply
  • September 22, 2013 at 2:38 am
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    Great review. Monkey 47 is the best taste to date. Can I find it in North America??tks

    Reply
    • September 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm
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      Unfortunately, I don’t know about any US sellers. You might have some luck contacting the Monkey 47 distillery or Aaron at theginisin.com.

      Reply
  • December 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm
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    You can get this gin from the off-licence The Vineyard, Ormeau Road, Belfast. It’s the best off-licence I’ve seen in N. Ireland.

    Reply
  • December 25, 2013 at 9:15 pm
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    Thanks for a super article. As I am reading your article while drinking gin, I didn’t notice the grammar problems ; ) I had my first taste of Monkey 47 last year and have been sold ever since. Neat or with a good tonic it is unlike any other. I am lucky that Monkey is easily available at most retail shops here in Denmark (still pricey though).
    Cheers!

    Reply
  • February 1, 2014 at 9:50 pm
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    I first noticed it for its label, which caught my eye in a bar in Amsterdam. I frequently travel to Germany and bring back Schweppes tonic water from there to the United States because US tonic water is all sugar, even the Schweppes brand. I have just purchased my first bottle of Monkey 47 and can’t wait to try it with my European tonic water.
    I am writing to caution US connoisseurs of G&Ts who might want to try the Monkey 47 of the nasty taste of tonic made for the US market .

    Reply
  • March 22, 2014 at 2:24 am
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    bought this for £40 in Virginia water, cork broke when trying to open – rather long cork, so had to push cork down rather spoilt the effect, there is better gin around but pleasant enough. Spoke to shop after to let them know about the cork pretended to be interested but not really…. nice idea re cork but shame it broke

    Reply
  • April 7, 2014 at 12:45 pm
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    With tonic and lemon it is very good

    I used to drink that when I was in Erasmus in Berlin

    Nice memories ha ha

    Reply
  • May 2, 2014 at 8:46 pm
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    Thanks for the review. This sounds very interesting, I’m tempted. But the cost…for gin? If you are desperate to buy it in US, I just saw KLwines.com will be selling it shortly.

    Reply
  • November 19, 2014 at 9:11 am
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    We were given a bottle by my sister in Paris at the weekend and really looking forward to our first G&T. I like G&T with lime while my wife prefers lemon. Which do you think goes best with the gin? Great review

    Reply
    • December 4, 2014 at 12:58 am
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      I go through phases of preferring lemon or lime (and pink grapefruit, and occasionally orange). I think, on balance, I favour lime more often than lemon though.

      Reply
  • November 27, 2014 at 11:28 am
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    Monkey 47 is an amazing gin! As an American living in Germany I like to dabble with all sorts of fun bottles of alcohol,this is my most recent find and definitly a gem! I found it in a High-End clothing store here in Ansbach (shoutout to Dresscode!) at 33 euros a bottle, bottled 10/2014, batch 38…Truely a very fruity taste and worth the money spent. I will be going back for more.

    Reply
  • January 7, 2015 at 10:52 am
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    Need to buy some Fever Tree Tonic before opening the Monkey Gin 47, can’t spoil it!

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    • January 7, 2015 at 3:53 pm
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      Good show! Savour every drop – it’s a cracking gin.

      Reply
  • January 25, 2015 at 4:57 pm
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    Hi, I first tried this in Cheshire in a pop up cafe with an acclaimed gin bar. They served my Monkey 47 with Fever tree tonic a slice of chilli and cinnamon powder. It was the most amazing gin to date complicated but delicious. I will definitely be buying a bottle x.

    Reply
  • March 16, 2015 at 2:40 am
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    Complex. Better to enjoy straight up. Mixing obscures the nuances. Price is high, but definitely a unique experience.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 11:46 am
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    Nicely said and couldn’t agree more. Originally recommended to me by terrific waiter at “the Dispensary” in Bendigo, took me 2 years to find it. Worth the wait. Fruity, smooth, a real delight. I like an aromatic gin, but the monkey isn’t just another branch. I think it’s another tree.

    Reply

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