The Willy Wonka of Gin | The Well


Welcome to the latest edition of The Well—a 4-minute breakdown of the stories behind your favorite alcohol brands.

On the shelf this week: Monkey 47, the whimsical and coveted German gin that’s literally the stuff of dreams.

The Rise of Monkey 47

Back before it was the it-gin brand doing streetwear collabs with Bape in 2022, Monkey 47 gin was doing some real Keebler Elf stuff. It all started in the 1940s when a commander in the Royal British Air Force, Montgomery Collins, fell in love with the Black Forest while he was stationed in Germany. He settled down in the region, and, proper Englishman that he was, started producing gin, utilizing the bounty of flora around him in the forest. He was also super into animals. During the reconstruction of the Berlin Zoo, with which he was actively involved, he sponsored a monkey named Max.

Legend has it that the recipe for Monkey 47 came to Collins in a dream. Years later, a bottle of gin, accompanied by a letter that contained the ingredients as well as a sketch of Max was discovered in his home. Circa 2006, this lore managed to make its way to a businessman named Alexander Stein, who eventually found a distiller who to embark on a journey of recreating Collins’ original gin. The brand officially launched in 2010.

True to its roots, the Monkey 47 distillery is located just outside the forest and is whimsical af. The copper distilling apparatus looks like something straight out of Willy Wonka’s factory and their website looks like an old-timey newspaper. It produces craft gin comprised of 47 botanicals—including lingonberry, which no other gin incorporates—and has an ABV of, you guessed it, 47%.

Monkey 47 mainly makes two products, Schwarzwald Dry Gin and the Schwarzwald Sloe Gin, though they also make an annual Distiller’s Cut, which requires potential purchasers to participate in an online raffle in order to be eligible to get their hands on a bottle. Not exactly a golden ticket situation, but close.

Why I Love Monkey 47

  • Outstanding on the rocks. It’s really good neat, but so much better on the rocks.
  • One of the most complex gins I’ve ever tasted – 47 botanicals in the gin. Typical gins are made with 12 or less.
  • Excellent sipping gin.

Ryan McCann
Growth & Marketing, Saucey

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