Spirit to Sip: Monkey 47 Dry Gin
Sidney Frank Importing
Ask Alexander Stein, founder of Black Forest Distillers, why he chose to make Monkey 47—a dry gin named in honor of the number of handpicked ingredients used to make it—and he’ll tell you it’s because he thought he could do the spirit better. After years of testing 130 different distillations in a minimalist facility in Schwarzwald, Germany, Stein and his master distiller, Christoph Keller, have done just that.
While the European market has been lucky enough to enjoy the award-winning spirit since 2010, Monkey 47 only began arriving stateside this summer. The charming, 375-milliliter apothecary-style bottles are flying off the shelves at specialty liquor stores, and bartenders are hoarding their own stocks. It’s garnered such a dedicated following, in fact, that some consumers are collecting the metal rings around the small cork stopper as a clubby, in-the-know keepsake.
Why has it struck a chord? The distinctive use of regional Black Forest botanicals like lingonberries, spruce tips and acacia certainly contributes. But there’s also the pure molasses-alcohol backbone, sweeter than the typical neutral-grain spirit used in most gins; a unique percolation process, in which a basket of secret botanicals is suspended in the still during distillation; a mandatory maturation period of at least three months in traditional German earthenware containers; and a coarse-filtration process, which maintains the spirit’s prominently floral, peppery flavor and fragrance.