Driven by an unquenchable curiosity for botanicals and a passionate desire to explore new sensory territory, combined with a soft spot for exquisite distillates, our Master Distiller, Christoph Keller, has been embarking on his third annual search for that "specie rara" – a special ingredient for a special and unique Black Forest Dry Gin, our Monkey 47 "Distiller's Cut". Every year, this special edition of just 3,000 bottles sets the hearts of barkeepers and gin enthusiasts racing with exhilaration.
Just once a year, Keller distills a very small batch of this unique cut – pushing himself to the very boundaries of what is even sensorially feasible in terms of distillation using plant ingredients. The macerate of the Monkey's 47 "traditional" ingredients is further enhanced by adding a special ingredient, distilled in a further process, matured for 12 months in earthenware containers, and then married with soft water from the Black Forest. But let's be honest, all we're really trying to do is keep our Master Distiller happy by allowing him to spend three weeks experimenting to his heart's content, beyond the boundaries of the conventional.
On May 13, 2012 – the feast day of Saint Servatius – his search for that "specie rara" took him to thefoothills of the southern Black Forest with the aim of harvesting sufficient quantities of a regional andyet well-known botanical treasure: "Maiwipferl" – young shoots of the Norway spruce, Picea abies.
Medical applications for the spruce were mentioned in herb books as long ago as in medieval times. In folk medicine, tea made from spruce shoots was widely considered to be an effective blood purifying agent.
For our distiller, however, the sensory properties of the spruce shoot – the sweet aromas of the fresh sap, a subtle hint of citrus notes, and the heavy earthy tones of the forest floor coupled with the early summer freshness of green spruce needles – are the real reason for his fascination.
A Quarter of a ton of this precious commodity, harvested in just four days by the hands of industrious helpers from throughout the region, made its way into our local and unique recipe, which requires an elaborate and complex manufacturing process.
Once they have been successfully harvested, the spruceshoots are placed in a warm raw distillate of Monkey 47, complemented by a selection of the 47 familiar regional and uncommon botanicals, and, in keeping with classic British tradition, macerated for "one day and two nights", or 36 hours, after which they are gently distilled.The result is a genuine Monkey 47 – just a totally different one!
A gin of unique complexity with peppery spices, subtle citrus and sap notes, as well as a long finish on the palate. A myriad of flavors bursting with vitality for those who want to treat their senses to a gin of real quality – neat, as a G&T,or in a Martini.