Monkey 47 - Distiller's Cut 2015

German Gin
Monkey 47 - Distiller's Cut 2015

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This year, Master Distiller Christoph Keller once again embarked on a special distillatory & botanical mission. This quest for the 'species rara', or that one special ingredient for Monkey 47 Distiller's Cut, led the team to, where else, but the Black Forest?! Just once a year, they distil a small batch in a limited edition of this unique Distiller's Cut that never fails to set the hearts of barkeepers and gin enthusiasts racing. As always, they have pushed themelves to the limits of what is sensorially feasible in terms of distillation using plant ingredients.

In the mountainous area around Wolfach, known as the "Moosenmattle", grows an abundance of 'meum athamanticum', commonly known as spignel. The team first encountered spignel at a wedding in the Black Forest, where a few years ago, their prolific and socially active Master Distiller was mingling with guests, when he was introduced to a gentleman by the name of Hardy Happle. This turned out to be a momentous encounter; apart from belonging to a family of renowned Black Forest ski jumpers (in modern ski-jumping, the take-off board was named "Happle-Balken", after Happle's father), it soon became apparent that Hardy Happle is the modern day equivalent of Montgomery Collins, the forefather of Black Forest Dry Gin.

A freelance architect with a penchant for listed cultural assets, Happle is also active on the international stage as a producer of contemporary ballet and a hobby botanist. Yet his true passion is the "Hinteren Liefersberger Hof", an old farmstead built in 1601 on the Moosenmattle, which Happle bought in 2007 and lovingly renovated over three years to restore its original character. On the meadows around the old farmstead, Happle soon noticed the huge quantities of spignel plants. Long forgotten due to industrialisation, Spignel grows in mountainous regions. It is a strongly scented perennial herb with delicate, finely divided aromatic leaves and white flowers. When the foliage is cut or crushed, spignel emits a fine, somewhat sweet scent that is similar to fennel, dill or even gin.

This chance meeting of minds, or better put botanical souls, led Christoph Keller and Hardy Happle to experiment and the 'species rara' for the 2015 Monkey 47 Distiller's Cut was uncovered. So in midsummer 2015, around two dozen harvesters (with herb and monkey expertise) gathered on the Moosenmattle and crawled through the mountainous terrain three times over, hand-picking large quantities of the wild spignel seeds, which were later dried for distillation.

This year in a complex and extensive production process, the macerate of the 47 "traditional" ingredients of Monkey 47 was enhanced to include spignel seeds, distilled again, matured for three months in earthenware containers, before finally being combined with soft spring water from the Black Forest.

Distiller's Cut 2015 is a refreshing, tangy gin with delicate vegetable top notes, spicy heart notes, and a unique complexity and density - and as always, Master Distiller Christoper Keller is a very happy man!

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