For a lot of people, their first taste of a truly craft gin was the Monkey 47 Gin in Hong Kong. Back when the emergence of craft gin was in its infancy, and there were only a handful of brands on the market, their flavours mostly stuck to the traditions of the London Dry variety, which to the average person tasted harsh and alcoholic.
Monkey 47 gin changed everything, as the taste is pungent, but was easy to drink. Immediately the Black Forest Schwarzwald hit a previously untapped market in Hong Kong, and everyone went crazy about the Monkey 47 Gin. “Have you heard about the gin with 47 botanicals, and 47% abv”? Bars and restaurants, once considered any brand of that price was ridiculous with no consequence to their revenue, had overnight made the switch and poured bottles and bottles of Monkey 47. A lot of stores were also in on the action, Monkey 47 was in Hong Kong retail displays, a small bottle with a big price tag. All of that only added to the allure of the Monkey 47 in Hong Kong.
The story of the Monkey 47 gin begins just after World War II, Indian born British Wing Commander Montgomery Collins of the RAF was part of Germany Berlin’s rebuilding effort, and part of his duty was the city’s zoo. It was there that Collins developed a bond with its inhabitants, one of which was an egret monkey known as Max. The story goes that he was so close to Max, that he later on named his guesthouse in Black Forest near Strasbourg in honour of it, Zum Wilden Affen, which means “a wild monkey”. Following the Black Forest tradition of distilling fruits, Collins developed some recipes for distilling gin, using locally available botanicals in the Black Forest, along with its extremely soft water. That very recipe, along with a bottle labelled “Max the Monkey - Schwarzwald Gin”, was later found during restoration work at the guesthouse. It’s unclear how much of this story, or which part, is true. But this is the version Alexander Stein, the founder of Monkey 47 shares on where the idea of a Black Forest gin came from. Having just quit his job and moved to Germany in 2008, Alexander Stein met Christoph Keller (who had been distilling schnapps) and began their venture into the monkey business of distillation.
Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin
Given the huge selections of brands in this category that are available, Monkey 47 has relevance and longevity few others enjoy. Even after so many years, Monkey 47 in Hong Kong is still amongst the best sellers in bars, restaurants, and retail shops. The 47 botanicals in Monkey 47 produce a flavour profile that is smooth, complex, and additive.
On the palate, Monkey 47 Dry Gin has a pine forest flavour, herbaceous and grassy, botanical sweetness, and peels of citrus and grapefruit. Because Monkey 47 is delicate and complex, it can be served neat or with ice. The best garnish we find is a little herb, like sage, or citrus peels, like lime, or grapefruit. Even so, mixing it with tonic will be the most popular way of drinking Monkey 47 Gin, and what’s the best tonic water to use? We find the best tonics are those with citrus profiles, like Fever Tree, and 1724 Tonic. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a lighter style of tonic water, we recommend Strangelove No. 8 or Coastal, these tonics complement well with the Monkey 47 gin. There are two other versions of Monkey 47 that are worth mentioning here. The Monkey 47 Barrel Cut Gin, and Monkey 47 Sloe Gin, both are available year-round.
Monkey 47 Barrel Cut Dry Gin
The Monkey 47 Barrel Cut is an aged variety, matured in new, toasted mulberry 110 litre timber barrels. It tastes of sweet fruits, earthy, and spices. It’s best enjoyed neat, with ice, or as an old fashion. Because of the limited production size, this variety is on the pricier end. But considering the Monkey 47 Barrel Cut is more comparable in style to a bottle of whisky, the price is justifiable, especially when one takes flavours into consideration.
Monkey 47 Sloe Gin
The Monkey 47 Sloe Gin on the other hand, is a traditional drink based on the maceration process. Blackthorn, or sloe, is picked and washed before being steeped in the Monkey 47 Dry Gin. After agitating the sloe berries in it several times, it is rested for four weeks before the liquor is extracted leaving the sediments. For consistency, water is added until the abv is lowered to 29%. The Monkey 47 Sloe Gin is a light, refreshing, and delightful drink for all seasons; suitable for drinking chilled, with ice, or as a mixed drink.
Monkey 47 in Hong Kong
Monkey 47 has been one of our favourite brands since it arrived in Hong Kong. Long before other craft gins arrived in Hong Kong, Monkey 47 Dry Gin was turning heads and changing drinker’s minds about the value of such a product. Since then, with the arrival of so many other brands, Monkey 47 in Hong Kong has not diminished in importance, but rather, it has only grown in strength and significance. If you order a Monkey 47, along with tonic water before 3pm, we can normally deliver the next day cold. If you need anything, contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.