Year of the Monkey
As per the Chinese calendar, 2016 is the year of the Monkey. What better time to profile 3 unique beverages which pay tribute to the monkey.
Montgomery Collins is the man to whom we owe Monkey 47, which is a Schwarzwald Dry Gin. combining as their website says, “British traditions, exotic India and the purity of the Black Forest”. The latter is where Monkey 47 came to life with 47 referring the total number of handpicked ingredients used for Monkey 47, with 1/3rd of these coming from Germany’s Black Forest. The use of cranberries as a unique flavour signifier stands out for Monkey 47. It comes in a beautiful amber coloured bottle with a stopper on the top.
According to tradition, the “Zum Wilden Affen [The Wild Monkey]” country guest house where everything began was then to be referred to by the locals simply as “House 47”. Montgomery Collins, a former Wing Commander in the British Air Force, while in Berlin, directly after World War 2, sponsored an egret monkey named Max at the Berlin Zoo, which was then being rebuilt. He then went on to name the guest house he set up after Max.
True to his English roots, Monty Collins began to develop his own recipe for a Gin, taking advantage of a new set of botanicals and ingredients provided by the Black Forest. This recipe might have been lost for ever, if not for a turn of the century discovery, during the renovation of his guest house, of a bottle of gin and a notebook with it’s recipe, and details of the plant ingredients Monty had used. Quite a story! Could almost be out of Ripley’s Believe it or not if you ask me! I for one, am going to try to get my hands on a bottle as soon as I can.
A Triple Malt which has caught the fancy of bartenders and consumers, the world over, it routinely wins awards for being the world’s most fashionable spirit. Back then when Dave Stewart, the Malt master at William Grant and Sons was deciding the blend, the marketing pundits were still at a loss for what to call it when they decided to seek inspiration from the distillery team at The Balvenie.
Monkey Shoulder was originally made as a blend of 3 malts from Speyside – The Balvenie, Kininvie and Glenfiddich. It continues to be made from a blend of 3 Malts from the Speyside, although the choice of Malts may vary from year to year.
Balvenie continues to be one of the few single malts, who have their own malting floor, where traditional floor malting is carried out, that is malt men, with the help of long rakes turning over the barley.
Coming back to the story, when the marketing team was seeking inspiration from the Balvenie team, they were told about the floor malting and also about a common RSI (repetitive stress injury) known as Malt shoulder or Monkey shoulder, which the malt men could get, so named as one shoulder would droop down, very much like a monkey’s. And so the name was given, as a tribute to the Malt Men of Balvenie, who keep a tradition going.
The Monkey Shoulder bottle also has Batch 27 written on it, which refers to the Batch # which won the approval of the Grant family, and the 3 monkeys on the bottle refer to it being a blend of 3 malts.
Monkey Shoulder was conceptualised as a scotch whisky for someone who doesn’t drink whisky, and the smoothness of the blend is true to the vision of the brand. Dean Callan, the global brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder was in India recently and he mixed us up a Mamie Taylor, a drink as delicious as it sounds.
Watch Dean make the Mamie Taylor here.
From the Black Forest to Scotland, and then to Belgium via India.., “Imagined in India”, is how Bira 91 is positioned. And for a beer who believes in “letting the crazy ones in”, what better iconography to use than a monkey 🙂 After all even though Bira 91, which has emerged as India’s hottest selling beer, is brewed in Belgium, it still has a lot of India going for it, starting with the monkey, and going on to the name, with Bira drawing parallels with the Punjabi word for elder brother, and the number 91 standing in for India’s country code.
Bira 91 comes in two forms, White (Wheat) and Blonde (A Craft lager). It’s available in the bottle, and for those lucky enough to serve (and stock!) it, on tap. Conceptualised by an Indian team, including Ankur Jain, the Mr Beer of Cerana, we also shortly expect Bira to be brewed in India, at which point, it’s availability should improve many fold.