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Welcome to my latest adventure; one which was as much a mystery as it was an adventure. Monkey 47, the cult favourite amongst gin lovers, recently held a 3-day product launch from the 25th - 27th of October; unveiling their newest addition to its family of handcrafted gins: The Barrel Cut Dry Gin.
All I knew about the launch was that it was held at an urban forest situated in the heart of Chinatown. Filled with excitement and intrigue, I started my journey to find out more about this new gin.
As I walked towards the meeting point stated on my event invite, I was greeted by four gentlemen decked out in dapper suits - an interesting juxtaposition with the passersby in Chinatown. One of the four smooth-tongued ushers further impressed me with an invitation to ride in a special Monkey 47 van that will bring me to my destination. The van was fully painted with forest motif alongside the famous monkey that represents Monkey 47 - what an apt start to an urban forest adventure.
Spiralling up 6 storeys, I finally reached the event space. Right outside the entrance was a booth serving salivating bar grubs and as I turned to the right, I noticed a huge crowd. Curious, I squeezed through the human wall and was greeted by celebrity guests Alan Wu, Chua En Lai and Rebecca Tan; who were ordering drinks from an exquisite Monkey 47 mobile bar. The mobile bar was intricately decorated with light bulbs that reminded me of a magical circus common to that of the early 1900s.
With my sloe gin and soda in hand, I walked into what seems like a bespoke cocktail bar and was soon greeted by tunes of the latest R&B and pop hits. I was quickly swooned over by Elijah and Joy’s rendition of Camila Cabello’s Señorita. The soothing sounds of the guitar was a great accompaniment to the tipple experience that was unfolding in front of me.
I was then told that I would soon be entering Dr Affen’s Gin Laboratory to uncover his latest project: The Barrel Cut Dry Gin. After several minutes, I was escorted by the Brand Ambassador for Monkey 47, Brandon Khoo past a container-like door into a safari themed room that looked like a recreation of a set on Jumanji. Right in the centre of the room stood Dr Affen, the botanical enthusiast. He introduced us to the history and quirky collections of Alexander Stein, the original creator of Monkey 47; an authentically handcrafted gin made from 47 botanicals from the black forests of Germany.
The Barrel Cut is a step up from the original Dry Gin with an additional complexity contributed by the myriad of flavours stemming from aging it in a special barrel. Inspired by sherries of the years past; which were aged in wooden casks to give them a more elegant taste, Alexander Stein chose the delicate mulberry casks to age the Barrel Cut. Mulberry trees are dense and produce very tight wood which means that its woody flavours will not overpower the spirit. Aging gin in mulberry casks is a more delicate approach which gives the Barrel Cut its fruity notes and sweet taste without an overdose of woody flavours. It is also produced in frugal amounts yearly, reflecting Alexander’s philosophy of quality over quantity. Prost to that!
Just as I was indulging in my shot of Barrel Cut, Dr Affen hastily announced that a game was about to begin; one that would see the winner bag a spectacular bottle of Monkey 47 gin home. Attendees had to hunt for 8 German words that were randomly displayed in the laboratory and then translate them into English to form an intelligible sentence. The sentence was a clue to where the key was; which would unlock the barrel the reward was hidden in.
Although I did not win the game, I did not walk away empty handed either. I was gifted two special items from the Monkey 47 team. The first was a handy wooden chopping board that I branded personally - all attendees had the amazing experience to brand their boards with a heated stamping tool.
The second item was a mystery box filled with brown papers to the brim. After ravaging through the papers, I found a sleek looking clay mug; what a functional addition to my kitchen! The last surprise in the box was a coupon that I could use to redeem a special cocktail.
Elated, I skipped to the bar to redeem my ‘Collins von Hand’ prepared by Jez Carreon, a guest bartender from the renowned cocktail bar, 28 Hong Kong Street. While waiting for Jez to whip up my tipplelicious treat, I gazed upon the names of up-and-coming bartenders from celebrated cocktail bars scribbled on the blackboard that enshrouded the bar front. There were two shifts daily, Danny Dave D’Cecil from Idlewild and Agnes Kuan from Fat Prince covered Friday, Jia Wei from Employees Only worked the shift just before Jez while Kelvin Chow from Burnt Ends and Gab Carlos from Manhattan Bar enchanted the crowd on Sunday.
Soon, Jez caught my attention and handed me his signature cocktail with a big grin. The cocktail’s name directly translates into ‘Collins By Hand’ in English and was inspired by the handmade ingredients present in Monkey 47 gins. It was a twist on the classic Tom Collins using the Barrel Cut Dry Gin. Spiced grapefruit cordial was added to accentuate the botanical tastes of the gin and soda water was added to balance out the sweetness of the gin. If you like your gin distinct with a delicate sweetness then a Barrel Cut Dry Gin Cocktail is the way to go.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Barrel Cut Launch. I understand the mystery behind the whole adventure now; it was meant to intrigue not only my mind but also my senses. Not knowing what to expect made the event so much more gratifying. The use of brown colour in the door gifts and decoration throughout the venue reflected the urban forest theme impeccably. Would I go for another Wilden Affen Adventure? In a heartbeat.
An incredible blend of 47 different botanicals, with a third of these coming from deep within Germanies Black Forest, creating a very Wunderbar Gin. Lingonberries, spruce tips, sloes and elderflower blossoms to name a few. All macerated with pure molasses alcohol and the Black Forests renowned soft water lead to MONKEY 47 having unrivalled complexity and quality, which is fully brought to bear through masterly distillation and maturing in traditional earthenware containers.
The distinct scent of juniper, tangy and crisp citrus notes, a sweet, flowery aroma, with a hint of peppery spices.
Classic London Dry characters with a complex mix of Black Forest botanicals. Crisp and fresh in the mouth, with some tangy and slight spicy notes which add extra freshness to the traditional characters.
Complex, good balance of all components and racy, fresh finish.
Unique in its complexity while accentuating great British traditions and the native-ness of the Black Forest. Distilled from 47 predominantly unusual but regional botanicals and macerated with wild-growing, handpicked sloe berries from the Black Forest, this Schwarzwald sloe gin is a true MONKEY 47, but nevertheless a whole different on.
Very complex, very aromatic fruit notes backed with strong amounts of juniper.
A healthy mix of earthy juniper coupled with rich, tangy, sweet berries.
Dry, tart, refreshing finish.
Deep, complex character, sweet and aromatic fruit notes.
Subtle fruity notes and a gentle sweetness.
Dry, extremely dense and uniquely complex.
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