During the past year gin has really started to become a hobby for me. That sounds like I’ve got a problem, but bear with me! I’ve read books about gin, gone to tasting evenings, my friends and I have held our own “Bring a Gin (or two) Day”. I’ve tried many more gins in the past 12 months than I had in the past 12 years before.It’s definitely become a thriving industry over the last decade with small batch, handcrafted gins popping up everywhere. My drinks cupboard has more or less become a gin cupboard now, and with even the supermarkets stocking a considerable range of interesting looking bottles it’s hard to resist trying a new one each time I find myself down the aisle of temptation. I never realised how varied and different one gin could be from another, and it’s no longer a case of just pairing a gin with a warm Schweppes tonic and an old slice of lemon. The tonics these days are far less sweet, with subtle flavourings that complement the botanicals in the gins. The garnishes call for an extensive herb garden (if I could manage to keep them alive, however green-fingered I am not!) or store cupboard stocks. I’ve even graduated to trying gin neat, but it has to be ice-cold. For drinking purposes I prefer my gin with tonic (around 1 part gin to 2 parts tonic for me), but on its own is the best way to first taste a gin.
I’ve rambled enough, let’s crack on with our first gin review!
Wednesdays call for gin. There’s no denying this. It may be once the kids have gone to bed and calm descends over the household. It may be as soon as you step through the door after a long day at work. It may even be a cheeky lunchtime gin (just the one, of course). Today was that day. A lunchtime gin day. Luckily I have colleagues with a keen interest in gin too and we escaped for a ‘lunchtime meeting’. They had Monkey 47 behind the bar, and our choice was made.
Details: Monkey 47 is distilled in the Black Forest in Germany. The 47 in the name comes both from the number of botanicals that go into this gin, and the fact it’s bottled at 47% ABV. The monkey comes from the gin’s back story – the recipe is attributed to a British Air Force Commander who was stationed in Germany after the second world war and who helped rebuild Berlin Zoo, including sponsoring an egret monkey named Max (who can be found on the label).
Bottle: I’m sure you shouldn’t judge a gin by its bottle but honestly, who doesn’t? A good, solid, apothecary-style bottle made from brown glass, stoppered with a cork. As mentioned, an illustration of Max the monkey takes pride of place on the label. I like this style, and it certainly stands out from the majority of gin bottles – all clear glass with accents of blue. Top marks.
Serve: Served with a Mediterranean Fever Tree tonic, a slice of orange and sprig of rosemary to garnish – very nice, very summery looking. A regular premium tonic would also allow the gin to shine, this gin needs no helping hand in the flavour department (47 botanicals, remember?).
Nose: Herbal sweetness, with a warm, woody undertone.
Tasting notes: Rich, robust and well-rounded. A complex and unique gin, it’s hard to pick out an over-arching flavour category. It starts citrus-y, giving way to plenty of spice, fruit and herb flavours. I cannot even begin to try to identify all 47 botanicals, every sip suggests something new as the gin develops. A description here seems almost irrelevant as this gin is nearly everything a gin could be. Smooth was my main takeaway, all the botanicals really work together rather than fighting for attention. Smooth with a capital SMOO.
Drink, buy or bin? At around £37 for 500ml Monkey 47 is firmly in the upper price bracket but I will definitely buy this as I really enjoyed it. Consider it a treat gin, rather than an everyday drink.
Monkey 47 can be found at several online retailers, including Masters of Malt.