Product of: Germany
In 1951, Collins left Berlin and moved to the northern Black Forest region to try his hand at watch making. It turned out that he wasn't actually that good at making watches, and seeing as Collins never forgot Max the monkey, he opened a country guesthouse in his honour, and called it 'Zum wilden Affen' ('The Wild Monkey'). As a true colonial Brit, Collins longed for a good glass of gin which seems to have sparked a plan.
The story comes to a suspicious end when, in the 1960s, renovation work was being done on Zum wilden Affen. As people began clearing out, they found a wooden box in the basement containing a dusty bottle, sketches of a monkey (with a header saying: 'Max the Monkey') and a letter. The bottle was full of Collin's own-brand gin, and excitingly, the letter contained a list of the ingredients he used. (How fortuitous!)
As the brand name suggests, there are no fewer than 47 botanicals in the gin. Collins apparently sought inspiration from his Indian childhood (told you Madras was relevant), and turned to spices such as cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, almond, ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, liquorice and Acorus calamus. There are also tangy notes in the gin from combinations of bitter orange and lemon balm.
One third of the ingredients are handpicked from the Black Forest itself, so were literally sourced in Collins' back garden. It's for this reason that unconventional flavours such as spruce tips, blackberries, sloes, sage and verbena are used in this unique gin.
In 2008, The Black Forest Distillers adopted Montgomery Collins' recipe, and named the new gin 'Monkey 47' in memory of Max the monkey, and as a nod to the number of botanicals used and the gin's alcohol volume.
The small medicine/lab-like bottle has a stamp-like label complete with perforation marks top and bottom. It also has a very natty natural cork stopper with a stainless steel band around the middle of the cork preventing the cork being driven home into the bottle so it sits proud, like a re-corked wine bottle.
Review and Tasting
Sampled on 11/12/2016
(sample bottle batch 105/2016, bottle No. 4601, bottled 05/2010) Crystal clear.
Intense lime zest, lime cordial and lemongrass are made even fresher with eucalyptus and spruce forest. Faint lavender. Water amplifies freshly sawn sappy pine aromas.
Clean, invigorating zesty lime, resinous pine and eucalyptus with herbal notes, liquorice and cardamom spice. Even more zesty lime with water.
Zesty lime, lemongrass and pine flavours also dominate the long finish with lingering cardamom spice.
This boutique gin has achieved almost cult status amongst gin lovers with an accompanying premium price – remember it’s only a 50cl bottle, although it does pack a 47% alc./vol. punch. Notes of zesty lime, lemongrass and spruce dominate, so Monkey 47 will appeal to gin drinkers after a juniper and citrus forward flavour profile.