Scarcely any other spirit has changed so dynamically and continued to develop over the past three centuries. Originating in medieval monasteries, where archaically distilled alcohol was flavoured with juniper berries to mask its inferior quality and taste, Dutch "Genever", which had initially been marketed as a medicine by a resourceful physician, gradually spread as far as England, where it evolved to become the ubiquitous people's drug of the "Gin Craze" in the 18th century.
History of Gin
The global spice trade, access to oriental and Asian spices and continuously developing distillation techniques brought about a sustained improvement in the quality of gin. With the discovery of quinine as a form of malaria prevention and the introduction of "tonic water", gin acquired its key significance as an important basis for a variety of cocktails and long drinks.Today, at the start of the 21st century, gin is on everyone's lips the world over – as the pinnacle of the art of distillation and a secret passion of bartenders. Following centuries of changing tastes and dynamic transformation, the history of gin has now taken on a whole new dimension.
The great British tradition of London Dry Gin is united with the exoticism of India and the raw, unspoiled nature of the Black Forest. Our story begins in the 1950s. Following his childhood as the son of a diplomat in Madras and a career in the British Air Force, love draws Wing Commander Montgomery Collins to an isolated valley in the Black Forest, where he takes over the "Wild Monkey" guesthouse. Here, he becomes acquainted with the great Black Forest tradition of distilling fruit and – out of a longing for his own British passions – develops a special gin, which becomes a trademark of the "Wild Monkey" right through to the 1970s.
A Gin from Germany ?
And what's more, from the Black Forest, which has always been known more for its fruit brandies and cuckoo clocks than for Britain's national drink? Well, actually, it's not as strange as it might seem. In the strictest sense, a gin is a combination of spirits distilled from herbs and fruits. And nowhere else in the world will you find the wealth of distilling expertise and centuries of experience that there is in southern Germany. This is where the world's most renowned distillers work, and where traditional coppersmiths build the best distilleries. Access to fresh ingredients of the highest quality is virtually unlimited, and the Black Forest water sourced from deep sandstone springs is one of the softest and mildest waters in Europe. So it seems perfectly logical since the prerequisites for a premium gin from the Black Forest were already in place.
So the idea was born, a plan drawn up, and the Black Forest distillers had forged their partnership. Montgomery Collins' Black Forest Dry Gin was to be reborn: a master quality gin with floral notes, the freshness of tangy citrus fruits, a clear juniper tone, a peppery, spicy mouthfeel and a subtle hint of cranberries to give it that certain "je ne sais quoi". Produced exclusively by hand using traditional distilling methods and 100% fresh plant ingredients and married with the soft water of the Black Forest. Its name says it all: Exactly 47 different plant ingredients have found their way into the "Monkey 47" recipe. A recipe that is naturally a carefully guarded secret and known only to Alexander Stein and his distiller, Christoph Keller.
The exotic ingredients, including six different types of pepper, are sourced in certified organic quality and monitored continuously. For this purpose, the former pigsty is now used for storing drugs with samples and specimens that can be constantly compared. In keeping with classic British tradition, the freshly ground ingredients are placed in warm French molasses alcohol and macerated for 36 hours, or "one day and two nights". Individual ingredients, such as the peel from bitter oranges, lemons and pomelos, must be added fresh to the macerate prior to distillation, which requires the helping hands of hard-working locals from 7 o'clock every morning!
Then, the ancient alchemistic art of distillation simply takes its course...Using this traditional and proven approach, a molecular aroma architecture is created which produces a harmonious taste that is as complex as it is captivating. But even after distillation, Black Forest Dry Gin is a long way from being finished. Only when it's been stored for three months in traditional earthenware containers and married with the extremely soft water of its own Black Forest spring does the distillate develop the matchless harmony and mellowness that make "Monkey 47" an absolute pleasure, either in a mix drink or just on its own.
Monkey 47 is bottled unfiltered in individually numbered batches. The brown glass bottles were developed especially and recreate the traditional design of an old chemist's bottle, the brown glass protecting the volatile aromas from UV light. And the label on this bottle depicts... what else – the wild monkey. From the tranquil Black Forest valley, "Monkey 47" has now embarked on its round-the-world trip and will soon be available in over 20 countries on three continents. Aficionados, bartenders and connoisseurs the world over have come to appreciate the incredible complexity and harmony of a gin that Commander Collins invented as long as 60 years ago – mainly out of nothing more than a nostalgic yearning for England.