The story has it that in 1945, British RAF officer Montgomery Collins was posted to Berlin, and found himself moved by the devastation caused by fighting and allied bombs.
Collins threw himself into reconstruction efforts, which included work on the city’s zoo – during which time he sponsored an egret monkey called Max.
Upon leaving the RAF in 1951, Monty moved to the Black Forest, and opened a guest house named ‘Zum wilden Affen’ (A wild monkey) in honour of Max, and set to the typically British task of creating a gin.
Fast forward to the early 1960s, and renovation work on a country house uncovered a wooden box containing a bottle and a letter. The bottle was labeled ‘Max the Monkey – Schwarzwald Dry Gin’ and the letter contained a description of the plants Montgomery had used in the gin.
In 2006, Alexander Stein, a chap with a family history in the drinks trade, learned of this story and decided to bring Schwarzwald Dry Gin back to life. He partnered with Christoph Keller, a highly acclaimed distiller, whose creations have been recognized internationally with over 100 awards in the last three years.
Together, Stein and Keller tested dozens of botanicals and produced over 100 test distillations to arrive at the final Monkey 47 formula. The 47 refers to the number of botanicals, many of which are grown in situ at the distillery’s farm.
The distillation process involves both distilling the botanical macerate and using steam extraction whereby the molasses-derived base alcohol vapors are extracted via fresh plant materials.
At the Zetter Town House press launch, BarLifeUK found plenty of juniper on hand, along with quite a peppery kick which we liked very much.
The distillers say: “The distinct and pure scent of juniper, tangy and crisp citrus notes, a sweet, flowery aroma, with a hint of peppery spices, subtle bitter fruit notes of cranberries, and a deep and harmoniously balanced complexity – e pluribus unum”.