Know your stuff: everything you need to know about Monkey 47

November 25, 2020

    When Monkey 47 launched in 2010, its aromatic complexity, premium packaging and unique backstory made it an instant success.

    Just the next year, it won best gin in the world at the International Wine & Spirit Competition,and from then on, it became the go-to base of countless G&T’s in the best bars around the world. Now ten years later, the brand’s cult status is still going strong.

    Here is your essential Monkey 47 guide, with everything you need to know about this worldwide fan favorite and bartender obsession.

    Established in:

    2010, Black Forest, Germany

    Background story:

    Royal Air Force wing commander Montgomery “Monty” Colins was posted in Berlin after World War II and became devoted to the rebuilding of its Zoo, through which he came to sponsor an egret monkey by the name of Max. In 1951, the eccentric Englishman moved to the northern Black Forest region where he opened a country guesthouse, “The Wild Monkey”. Nostalgic of British long-standing traditions, chief among them a good glass of gin, he developed a natural and regional basis recipe of Black Forest gin: juniper, pure spring water and a variety of special herbal ingredients. His creation, Schwarzwald Dry Gin, became the guesthouse’s trademark spirit until the 1970s.

    Almost four decades later, in 2006, Alexander Stein was working for Nokia in Detroit when an old friend from Germany called him with a curious discovery. A story about an Englishman, a monkey, and an old gin recipe from the depths of the Black Forest. Alex Stein, who just so happened to descend from a family of distillers himself, was hooked. He became obsessed with the idea of producing a Black Forest gin whose aromas would come from local ingredients, and his heart was set on breathing new life into this forgotten recipe. At the end of 2008 he decided to quit his job and head back to his home country. In 2010, Monkey 47 was put out into the world, and the rest is history.

    What makes it special:

    That’s where the “47” comes in. No less than 47 different plant ingredients go into the recipe.  To give you some perspective, most gins only carry a dozen. Monkey 47’s array of botanicals, including angelica root, acacia flowers, bramble leaves, lingonberries and spruce shoots, all harvested in the Black Forest, as well as juniper, lavender, and six types of pepper, is unmatched in the industry. Also worth mentioning is the water. Sourced from deep sandstone springs, Black Forest water is one of the softest and mildest in Europe.


    Monkey 47 is a gin that keeps evolving on the tongue, rolling from bright, tangy citrus freshness to a delicate bouquet of floral notes to a gentle, peppery spice mouthfeel.

    From the International Wine & Spirits Competition:

    Very attractive nose with typical London Dry characters with some slight spicy notes. Crisp and fresh on the nose and equally so in the mouth. Some tangy notes in the mouth add extra freshness to the traditional characters. Fairly complex. Good balance of all components and racy, fresh finish.”

    Best enjoyed in:

    A simple Gin and Tonic, a perfectly well-balanced Bramble[1] , or pretty much any gin-forward cocktail.