Inside Look: Monkey 47 Distillery

As with many modern gin recipes, Germany’s Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin was born at the intersection of many influences, including British distillation traditions, the flavor profiles of India and the essence of the region were its made: the Black Forest of Germany. With over a third of the botanical billing coming from the surrounding landscape where the distillery sits, ingredients like local lingonberries (one of the 46 proprietary botanicals) are macerated in a combination of molasses-based spirit and spring water from sandstone wells in the Black Forest. It’s a unique gin with a complex and distinct sense of place.

And while many distilleries put function ahead of form, the stunning design of the Zum Wilden Affen (German for “The Wild Monkey”) distillery is an apt prelude to what’s made inside. Located on a farmstead that was originally built in 1840, the site “boasts its own granary and a magnificent perch nestled amongst orchards, meadows, and ancient trees,” says founder Alexander Stein. “Until its purchase by Black Forest Distillers in 2013, the Schaberhof was the site of traditional agriculture and cattle husbandry for five generations.”

To pay homage to the original character of the property while also modernizing the buildings for a contemporary distillation operation, Stein worked with e15, a Frankfurt-based design firm known for their work with “solid wood in its purest form.” Weaving together a thoughtful mix of traditional and modern materials, the firm created a beautiful nod to the history of the region. “The exterior of the farmhouse is overlaid with the classic hand-split wooden shingles typical of the area, and in keeping with another of the northern Black Forest’s traditions, the individually hand-cemented stable windows were set into the façade with sills of colored sandstone, lending the farmstead much of its local character,” Stein says.

Inside, simple, clean lines create a modern laboratory feel where distillation and bottling happen, while the tasting rooms combine softer elements of wood and stone. “The wood, the tile—it’s all as natural as possible,” Stein says, adding that he especially likes the natural color of the tiles that curve around wall corners and window frames, and picturesque views keep the operation rooted in the surrounding landscape. Quality and attention to detail is at the core of Monkey 47, and E15 was able to stay true to this by creating a simple design that doesn’t compete with the distillery’s natural surroundings, allowing the beautiful landscape to take our breath away from every point.”


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