This Monkey's Gone to Heaven
This is a $45 HALF bottle of gin from the Black Forest region of Germany. It is a 375ml, not a full size. That makes this a $90 bottle of gin if you go by 750ml standards. That makes this one expensive bottle of gin. But, there are times in life when flavor trumps all, and amazing things do happen in the booze itself (not in the story), forcing you to recognize – universally – that you’re in the midst of something special. This is one of those moments.
Every year when we go to Scotland we usually fill our suitcases with all kinds of booty – whiskies you can’t find in the U.S., Cuban rum, and other novelties. This year all three of us filled our suitcases with Monkey 47 gin. It is without a doubt one of the most amazing spirits I’ve ever tasted and quite clearly the best gin I’ve ever had. Hell, even old Robert Parker agreed with us this time around. He went on record recently, tweeting that Monkey 47 is "the greatest gin I have ever tasted." At the time we were packing our bags with Monkey 47 gin, we had no idea the brand was planning to launch in the U.S. a little more than a month later. In the UK, they sell this in 500ml size bottles, so the guys at Black Forest distillers had to decide whether to go up to 750ml, or down to 375ml for the American market. I think they made the wise move in going down a size. I think more people are apt to experiment with this high-end elixir if they know they don’t have to go all in right away.
So what’s the story with the gin? Here’s the romantic part: in 1951, a British man named Montgomery Collins moved to Germany's Black Forest and opened a guesthouse named "Zum wilden Affen" -- the wild monkey. A renowned gin drinker, Collins' taste for the spirit was not particularly important until renovation work at the country guesthouse led to the discovery of a weighty old wooden box containing a bottle and a letter. The dusty bottle had been labeled and decorated by hand, showing a sketch of a monkey and the words "Max the Monkey - Schwarzwald Dry Gin" in black lettering. The accompanying letter contained not only personal notes and photographs but also a detailed description of the plant ingredients Montgomery had used in his recipe, from which the Monkey 47 gin was reproduced.
The important story of the spirit is this: Monkey 47 gin is AMAZING. It's like an elixir sent from heaven. A good third of the ingredients for this special gin came from the Black Forest (including local juniper, important for making Black Forest Ham). In total, 47 handpicked botanicals, prepared in extremely soft spring water from a local Black Forest source give Monkey 47 an unrivaled complexity and quality. The use of local cranberries adds a distinct fruity note to the incredibly floral and complex whirlwind of flavors.