After nearly 10 years of these texts, we could probably spare you the introduction, but the newbies will hopefully appreciate a brief review: botanical curiosity, the hunt for exotic aromas, numerous expeditions, Species Rara ... You guessed it – it’s time for another edition of Monkey 47 Distiller's Cut in all its wonderful facets!
This year, that good old wanderlust led us not into the depths of London, but to a place entirely above ground: a souk in the United Arab Emirates. Amidst the intoxicating scents, intense colours, and other hallmarks of the Orient, we met our old friend Ryan Clift (alias: Chef Ryan) , who served as more than just a companion on our most recent search for distinct distillates.
Ryan Clift's culinary career began at the age of 14 at a Michelin-starred restaurant near his hometown of Devizes, Wiltshire (UK). Immediately drawn to the high energy and atmosphere of the kitchen, Ryan worked his way up from washing dishes to become a young protégé. After graduating from culinary school, he moved to London, where he landed a position in the restaurant of London's most prestigious hotel, Claridge's. Over the course of his 20-year career, Ryan has worked with some of the world's best chefs, including Marco-Pierre White, Peter Gordon, Emmanuel Renaut, Shannon Bennett, and Raymond Capaldi. In 1999, he moved to Australia, where he excelled as head chef of Vue de Monde,one of the country’s most acclaimed restaurants. “We sail tonight for Singapore / We're all as mad as hatters here…” Inspired and encouraged by Tom Waits’ eponymous mid-80s classic, Ryan then moved to Singapore in 2008 to start his own venture of culinary madness and take modern food and cocktail pairing to a new level. Essentially, the mission was as simple as it was challenging: Have one big chef’s table that would draw the customer into the kitchen and bar to experience all the magic of the creative process. With that, the Tippling Club was born. Mission accomplished! Cheers, Ryan – we’ll catch up with you and all the other hatters the next time we’re in town.
For the moment, however, let's focus on our need for something special and truly beguiling – the Orient and Occident in sensory symbiosis, if you like. Our wide-ranging culinary ventures soon broadened our botanical horizons in a manner that far surpassed our expectations. Spurred on by Ryan’s own inquisitiveness, we spent days experimenting before coming to a unanimous decision: Ladies and gentlemen, we're pleased to present the aril (covering) of the nutmeg seed, Myristica fragrans!
Also known as mace, this spice was brought by Arab merchants to Europe in the 11th century, where it was mistaken for the dried blossoms of nutmeg trees. Like nutmeg itself, mace has a resinous aroma and a slightly bitter taste. It typically sees use as a dried or ground ingredient in baked goods, meat dishes, and some types of sausage. The confusion surrounding its origins notwithstanding, the odour of mace is indeed unique and alluring – reason enough for us to brave another distillatory departure.
As for how the spice is produced, nutmeg fruits are first individually picked from a tree when they are fully ripe. The pericarp, or wall of the ripened ovary, is then removed. The bright red covering (the aril) is separated from the seeds and laid out to dry in the sun or a wellventilated space. Once the cup-shaped aril has withered, it is pressed between boards and left to dry for another six weeks, which gradually changes its crimson colour to more of an amberapricot hue. Upon arriving at our distillery, the resulting mace is ground up and added to the traditional macerate used to make Monkey 47. Since the aril of nutmeg seeds contains a high concentration of essential oils, finding the right balance of ingredients is key in bringing together an intoxicating interplay of aromas and making each bottle as harmonious as possible. In a complex and extensive process, our Distiller's Cut is macerated once more following its initial distillation and then distilled again. After that, it's left to mature for three months in earthenware containers before being combined with soft spring water from right here in the Black Forest.
Each year, we produce a one-of-a-kind, limited-edition Distiller’s Cut that sets the hearts of bartenders and gin enthusiasts to racing. It represents our ongoing effort to test the limits of what’s possible in distilling botanical ingredients into an unforgettable sensory experience.
Our 2019 Distiller’s Cut is a piquant, yet elegant dry gin with delicate, subtly resinous top notes that lend it a unique complexity and unparalleled density. It's an exceptional pleasure for the palate – and not only for those who love the captivating scent of nutmeg. Cheers!