We deep-dived into the creation of Monkey 47 gin to find out why it deserves a permanent spot on your bar.
The last five years have seen a drastic shift in the way we consume alcohol. From opening the horizon to spirits (beyond rum and whiskey) to understanding the story behind aged drinks to the rise of homegrown alcohol brands—India’s drinking patterns have entered a new era.
A considerable part of this is welcoming newer spirits and brands to our palate. And when it comes to white spirits, gin has taken the drinks landscape by a storm. Rapidly becoming the go-to alcohol in most metros, its popularity compelled many indigenous brands to come up alongside. Not to mention the existing international gins that have entered India.
Monkey 47 gin is one such brand. The premium gin came to the country in 2017 and has fast become the benchmark for quality gin. Available at approximately Rs 5,000 for 500 ml, it is certainly priced above the prime gins that crowd the shelves. The keen care that goes into creating each bottle justifies what you finally sip. To find out what actually makes this apothecary bottle what it is and to take a close look at the process, we trekked all the way to the Black Forest in Germany.
The distillery finds home in a snowy farmstead in the Black Forest, off the Southwest Franco-German border. As you soak in the quaintness of the region and the magnificence of the forest, the gin seamlessly fits in as the perfect companion – give or take a bit of toddy or tonic. Upon entering the distillery, one is welcomed by the pungent notes of alcohol simmering into something tasteful, bold citrus scents envelope the space. The creator of Monkey 47, Alexander Stein and his team tells us that it is indeed sugar beet molasses that forms the base for this dry gin and each of the 47 botanicals are added one at a time.
They start with lingonberry; the objective of the process is to extract the oils (thereby flavours from each ingredient) so they come together to form the zesty gin. Only Black Forest spring water is used for this process, as its softness is essential to the final taste. The lingonberry rests for two to three weeks, and the remaining 46 botanicals are added step by step, post that. A fresh, citrusy whiff from deeper inside calls to us and we walk over to discover piles of fruits, peeled fresh every morning.
Alexander Stein’s team look into the quality of their ingredients so carefully that in the past, they have even stopped production due to lack of good quality citruses. As we try our hand at peeling grapefruits from Andalusia and Spain, we understand the delicateness and dedication this activity needs. Suffice to say, peeling fruits is no longer a mundane activity anymore, we’re seeing in a whole new light.
While they never reveal all the 47 ingredients in the making of Monkey 47, one can get a whiff of angelica, elderflower, blackthorn, cranberries, spruce, coriander, hibiscus, and pimento largely. Botanicals stay macerated for 36 hours in air-tight tubs. The liquid is then distilled and transferred to earthen clay vats, where they sit for 100 days before being ready. Typically a gin has between 5 to 10 botanicals, but here, you get an intricate bouquet of four times the taste notes. The elegance lies in how it is all evenly layered, without one ingredient entirely overpowering the other.
The highly developed sense of perfection in creating Monkey 47 gin is not where their care ends. From the amber-hued bottle that brings out the essence of the alcohol to their signature becher cup (an earthenware cup designed specially to taste Monkey 47), they’ve gone an extra mile to make it an experience to remember at every step.
So, whether you’re a gin enthusiast or a novice, Monkey 47 promises to be the right company to amp up your bar as well as palate. If you’re Europe-Bound, you can also take a ticketed tour of the distillery to know more about how exclusive gins like these are created. Traube Tonbach, the hillside hotel with all the modern luxuries in a picturesque wooden cottage setting is the place to stay as you savour this journey.
All images: Monkey 47