‘Monkey 47’. Right off the bat, that’s a cool name for a Gin. It’s quirky, a little unusual and with an air of mystery about it… And then there’s the bottle. Standing out from its counterparts you might find on display in the fancier beverage establishments, ‘Monkey 47’ comes corked in a tidy little brown bottle – looking somewhat similar to something you might find in an old school Chemistry set. The postage stamp-esq Purple label, depicting said Monkey, only serves to draw you further in towards this uniquely presented number.
Hailing from the Black Forest, Germany, ‘Monkey 47’ can actually be traced back to a British RAF officer (Wing Commander Montgomery Collins). After settling down in the Black Forest in the 1950s, following the war, he opened a guest house called ‘The Wild Monkey’ in tribute to a Monkey he’d sponsored at Berlin Zoo (the Monkey was called Max by the way. Not vital to the back story, but interesting none the less I think you’ll agree). I’d hazard a guess that this is where the reference to ‘Monkey’ comes from, within the resultant Gin he decided to try his hand at while he was there! It should also be noted that there are several fantastic Gins making their way to our glasses from Germany, but they’re stories in their own right for another day.
But what about the ’47’ I hear you cry?! Well I’m glad you asked. This powerful little number not only weighs in at a meaty 47% once bottled, but it has also managed to pack an incredible 47 Botanicals in to its recipe! That includes an incredible (if not a little OTT…) 6 different peppers. And unfortunately, that’s where they lost me…
Honestly – everything inside me wanted to LOVE this Gin. And when I finally got my hands on it I expected it to be love at first sip. To my surprise, I was hit by an overwhelming sense of confusion… The problem is, I’m just not 100% sure what this Gin is trying to be. While some might be impressed by the back story and the large back catalogue of ingredients, I felt that the drink lacked balance. As a straight spirit I found it a little harsh, with a not unpleasant warmth/spice on the tongue (but with no discernible flavour). And when tonic was added to the equation it was lost completely.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is a bad Gin. And the fact that this blog isn’t heaping praises upon ‘Monkey 47’, to some Gin lovers, would cause uproar and huge offence. Gin is a matter of taste and opinion, so by all means I encourage you to try it for yourselves. You may really like it. And I can certainly vouch for it having made a very drinkable, inoffensive, G&T. However, while price should never be the sole hallmark of quality, I couldn’t help but feel that it was the relatively steep price tag that initially made me want to like this drink (around £50 in a number of respectable drinks shops) – my final thought was that this may be a case of style over substance (despite the considerably large amount of substance they’ve managed to fit in!).