You might have seen our recent post about one of our favourite gins, the deliciously complex Monkey 47, made deep in the heart of the Black Forest.
Every great gin should have a great story behind it, but even by most normal standards, this one stands out. Bizarrely, it involves an RAF pilot, a wild monkey, a watchmaking business and a German distiller.
So what could possibly connect these things and what brought them together in the depths of the Black Forest to create this legendary gin?
The RAF pilot and a monkey called Max
After WW2 had ended, a certain RAF pilot with the very British name of Wing Commander Montgomery Collins moved from the UK to the Black Forest to set up a small watchmaking business.
But when his patience ran out with the intricacies of mechanical timepieces, he switched his attention to running a small guest house, which he named “The Wild Monkey”. According to local legend, it was named after a monkey called Max that he had adopted from Berlin Zoo.
Montgomery kept himself busy running the guest house, but he filled his spare time by making distilled fruit spirits. Inevitably, soon he graduated to gin.
Nobody knows exactly what happened to Wing Commander Collins, but his legacy lives on. Wherever he may have ended up, he left behind a case of gin labelled “Max the Monkey – Black Forest Dry Gin”.
In 2007 a local German distiller called Alexander Stein stumbled across the gin. Stein was intrigued. He tasted it and he recognised a good recipe when he saw one. He spent much of the next couple of years foraging for the ingredients and trying out and testing the ratios. Monkey 47 (paid link) was eventually launched in its distinctive squat, dark bottle with its stunning postage stamp label and an initial run of 2000 bottles.
47: the magic number
Within a year, this intriguing gin had won “Best In Class” at the International Wine and Spirits Championships in San Francisco. The rest, as they say, is history.
Monkey 47 is now one of the most respected gin brands in the world and a prominent feature of any decent bartender’s gin collection.
This complex, beautifully blended and packaged gin has carved out a big space for itself, partly because of the 47 unique botanicals (many locally sourced from the Black Forest) that make it so intriguing. It is also a hefty 47% ABV, so it packs a true punch. For a full review of this delicious gin, check out our recent article, Monkey 47: complex and packed with flavour
Each distinctive brown bottle recreates the old chemist bottles that gin was served from in its earliest days. It also features a postage stamp of Max the Monkey on its unique label, in tribute to the creature from the forest that inspired a gin.
Top tip: always keep a bottle of this in reserve for your special guests. They will love it.
Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)
Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.
- Gin fit for a Queen (and a Prince!)You may or not be a fan of The Crown, the latest must see hit mini-series from Netflix. We already know that the Queen is a big gin fan. According to inside reports, Her Maj is partial to a little sharpener of gin and dubonnet before lunch. Her eldest son, Prince Charles on the other … Continued
- GINRAW: an avant-garde gin packed with Barcelona styleBarcelona is a city known for its avant-garde style, creativity and sophistication. Over the years it has nurtured artistic geniuses such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro. But visionary engineer Ildefons Cerdà really put it on the map at the end of the 19th century as he designed the beautiful Eixample area in all its … Continued
- Gin-baked salmon: full of buttery, juniper goodnessGin seems to be everywhere these days and increasingly, it’s popping up in delicious, easy to prepare recipes. Whether you’re looking for a booze-soaked cake to cheer you up on a dark autumn afternoon or a hearty stew to keep the cold winter weather at bay, somewhere there’s a gin recipe for you. And when … Continued
- The Monkey Gland: 1920s Viagra in a classic cocktailWe seem to have developed a bit of a monkey theme this week. So in that spirit, here’s the bizarre story behind one of the world’s most famous gin cocktails – the Monkey Gland. This classic cocktail was first mixed up at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Let’s take a step back in time … Continued