Interestingly enough, the Philippines happens to be the largest market for gin, not only in the SEA region, but in the world. In fact, Filipinos account for approximately half of all global sales for the liquor.
Some attribute this appetite for gin to the successful marketing efforts of a local company; others speculate that the liquor’s popularity comes from its relatively affordable price and potent effects. Gin has, after all, been the affordable staple of home cocktails for generations.
Not your daddy’s gin and tonic
This year, however, a newcomer to the Philippine gin scene is causing a stir. MONKEY 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin, named after the mysterious German Schwarzwald or Black Forest where it’s made, is changing the game.
Smacking of sophistication and impeccable artisanal craftsmanship, it has been hailed as one of the most expensive gin brands on the market, and for good reason.
Why the unusual price tag? Because Monkey 47 is painstakingly handmade, brewed in the heart of the Black Forest, bottled with the best and most innovative technology available to brewers. In every bottle, the clear liquid melds British traditions, Indian spices, and the solemn purity of the Black Forest. No wonder it’s blowing the minds (and the taste buds) of gin fanatics nationwide.
A rich, aristocratic history
Monkey 47 was inspired by a concoction made by Montgomery Collins, the son of a diplomat to East Asia who went on to become a military man who eventually settled in Berlin. His journey to brew the perfect shot of gin in 1945, a staple back in his native Britain, is well documented, yet over time, the recipe was lost.
Alexander Stein, scion of the traditional Jacobi brandy dynasty, rediscovered the brew Collins’ developed in 2006. He then produced this audacious combination of native Black Forest herbs and berries and exotic Asian botanicals. Thus, the Monkey was brought back to life. As tribute, you’ll find the picture of Collins’ pet, for which the brand is named for, on its label.
In 2011 this eclectic blend won the World Spirits Award Gold in the Gin category and Gold for best in class for the Gin Worldwide at the International Wine and Spirits Competition London, cementing its place among the great artisanal liquors of the world.
Record-breaking botanical blend
Some people say that brewing gin is easy, but Alex Stein and his master distiller knew that excellence required a herculean effort. To create Monkey 47, they selected 47 ingredients from the Black Forest, which was simply unheard of during the time. To make matters more complicated, not all of the items they chose were traditionally used in making gin.
Among them, there are six different types of pepper, as well as almond, bitter orange, blackberry, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon verbena, cloves, coriander, cranberries, dog rose, elderflower, ginger, Grains of Paradise, hawthorn berries, honeysuckle, jasmine, Kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, nutmeg, pimento, pomelo, rosehip, sage, and sloe.
A good third of the ingredients come directly from the Black Forest, including the “secret weapon” of local cranberries and the extremely soft spring water. The concoction is then allowed to mature in traditional earthenware containers, developing its unrivaled complexity and quality over the span of four months.
Uncorking a bottle of Monkey 47 is always a delight. The heady scent of citrus assails you right away, inviting you to experience the myriad of bold flavors that will both entice and intrigue you.
Because it’s such a powerhouse of flavor, Monkey 47 does well paired simply with tonic water. But for those who like their cocktails, it also shines as a martini, a sling, or a gimlet, or something more exotic, so long as you pair it with something that can hold its own against Monkey 47’s boldness.
That doesn’t leave much leeway for the novice home bartender, but Monkey 47 can be found expertly prepared in some of the best bars and hotels in Metro Manila. Drop by some hot spots to sample the pros’ take on cocktails made with Monkey 47, fall in love with its depth and intricacy, and take home a bottle for yourself to enjoy neat, or on the rocks, or accented with a simple slice of citrus.
However you enjoy it, Monkey 47 will tickle your imagination and make sure that you never see gin the same way again. Get your Monkey-fill at leading hotels, bars and restaurants.