Monkey 47 is a Gin brand with a unique history. It's hard to tell if all parts of the story are true or if some bits and pieces are deliberately spread to embellish the legend.
Yet, even if there are a few question marks behind the story, the quality of the Gin is outstanding.
What is Monkey 47?
Monkey 47 is a famous Dry Gin produced in the Black Forest region of Germany and has been on the market since 2010.
It includes 47 botanical ingredients and contains 47% of alcohol. -This explains the number in its name. The monkey - part of the name and logo - has a more complex background which I'll get back to in a minute.
Besides their main product, Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin, the brand also produces a Sloe Gin, a Barrel Cut, and a Smoke House Cut expression as well as several limited editions.
- Owner: Pernod Ricard (since 2020)
- Type of liquor: Dry Gin
- Origin: Black Forest, Germany
- First released: 2010
- Ingredients: 47 different botanicals (see more)
- ABV: 47%
- Price: $64
Botanicals used to distill this Gin
Monkey Gin is produced from 47 different botanicals. What's most interesting about this is that many of them are known to the public. While most ingredient lists of spirit and liqueur are top secret, most of the ingredients in Monkey 47 are known.
Here's a list of what goes into the Gin: Acacia flower, allspice, Angelica, bitter orange, blossoms of Monarda didyma, bramble leaves, chamomille, cardamom, cassia bark, cloves, coriander, cubeb pepper, grains of paradise, grapefruit peels, hawthorn berries, jasmine, licorice, lemon balm, lemon peels, lingonberry, musk seed, nutmeg, orris root, rose hip peel, sage, spruce shoots, verbena, wild honeysuckle. 
Monkey 47 is a beautifully complex spirit, combining various aromas and flavors. It's a fresh and fruity spirit with unexpected yet pleasant nuances.
The aroma of Monkey Gin is very complex and junipery with notes of citrus, fruits, and wood.
On the palate, the flavors change a bit. The spirit is smooth with rich mint, pine, herbal, and citrus notes balanced by hints of floral flavors. Once the full flavor develops, you can taste more peppery and vegetal notes.
The aftertaste is a flavor mix of herbal mix with notes of mint, blackberries, cubeb pepper, and lemon.
How to drink it
To appreciate all the flavors in this Gin, you should drink it pure without distractions. It is no coincidence that Monkey is probably one of the most popular Gins to drink neat.
However, the drink that made this Gin famous was, of course, the Gin & Tonic. Subtle Indian Tonic Water is the best mixer to pair with this complex Gin. Fever-tree, for instance, is an excellent fit for this.
- 1.5 oz Monkey 47
- 3 - 4.5 oz Fever-tree Indian Tonic water
- Garnish with lemon peel and juniper berries
Monkey 47 Gin in cocktails
The complexity of flavors in Monkey 47 makes it an excellent ingredient in many classic Gin cocktail recipes. Either paired with subtle flavors like honey in a Bee's Knees or in combination with more powerful concoctions like Campari in a Negroni.
Here's a list of classic drinks you should try to make:
Range of products
Schwarzwald Dry Gin
The classic expression is still the most popular for a reason. A complex and flavorful spirit that's perfect when served neat and just as delicious in mixed drinks.
Their Sloe Gin is a great liqueur containing 29% ABV. Sloe berries from the Black Forest are macerated in classic Monkey Gin for over three months. The result is a sweet and slightly peppery liquor that contains lots of sloe and juniper flavors.
This dry and smooth barrel-aged expression is produced yearly but in very small batches. The spirit ages for six months in mulberry casks, providing plenty of fruity notes with a subtle sweetness. The typical herbal and junipery notes are also detectable.
Smoke House Cut
The Smoke House Cut is a Gin like no other. We know smoky notes in spirits from Whisky and Mezcal but not in Gin. Yet, the hint of smoke is not as strong as in these spirits. Still, just like a good Scotch, you should drink this spirit neat or on the rocks and not in mixed drinks.
Each year the brand releases a special limited edition of its famed Gin. For this, they use the standard recipe and only change one thing. Most of the time, that's an additional ingredient but sometimes also a difference in the production process. For instance, in 2020, the Distiller's Cut was aged in Mizunara oak barrels.
Monkey's Experimentum Series is another limited edition that constantly pushes the boundaries of what is sensorially feasible. It started with 2y01, where the Gin was fat-washed with Kobe Beef. Since then, six more expressions followed.
The story of Monkey does not start in the southern part of Germany but far more North, in Berlin.
After the end of world war II, British Wing commander Montgomery 'Monty' Collins from the Royal Air Force was stationed in the British part of Berlin. In his free time, he supported the reconstruction of the city. He was especially dedicated to the rebuilding of the Berlin Zoo. Through this work, he came to a sponsorship of an egret monkey called Max.
In 1951, Monty left the RAF and settled in the Southern Part of Germany. He planned to work as a watchmaker, but when this attempt failed, he opened a guesthouse called Zum Wilden Affen - en: The Wild Monkey.
During his time in the Black Forest, Monty began experimenting with local herbs and botanicals to produce Gin. The wide variety of herbs and spices in the region gave him plenty of opportunities to develop a unique recipe.
However, what happened to him after the early 1960s is unknown. Only when his former inn underwent renovation by a third party, an old wooden box was found inside. Inside it: A bottle of Gin and a letter.
The letter contained personal notes, photographs, and information on the recipe for the Gin. Below, there was a monkey sketch and a message saying: Max the Monkey – Schwarzwald Dry Gin.
Years later, in 2006, Alexander Stein heard about this tale and set his mind on recreating this spirit. In 2010, only four years later, the first batch of Gin was sold. On the label - an egret monkey (probably called Max).
Frequently Asked Questions
The monkey is a reference to Max, a monkey in Berlin Zoo for which the inventor of the Gin had a sponsorship.
Monkey refers to a monkey dear to the inventor. 47 hints at the number of botanicals in the Gin and its ABV.
With a wide range of scents and flavors, Monkey 47 is a gorgeously complex spirit. It's a fruity, fresh spirit with surprising yet delightful nuances.
Monkey 47 is a contemporary Dry Gin; -The brand itself calls this type Schwarzwald Dry Gin, which translates to Black Forest Dry Gin.
Yes, it's actually one of the best Gins to drink straight due to its complex and elaborate flavor profile.