Beverages

What the Heck is a Monkey Shoulder?

Forget what you know about whisky.

Unbeknown to many, there are several lesser-known animal/body part afflictions that affect people of whisky.

For instance, there’s Flounder Toe, a condition suffered after dropping a full cask on your foot, very similar to the lesser-known but equally painful Squid Hand. There’s Donkey Face, which is a colloquialism for the nerve damage one suffers after falling into a tub of fermenting mash, and finally, one of the better-known conditions, Monkey Shoulder.

The unconventional name ‘Monkey Shoulder’ also harks back to whisky making heritage as with the above mentioned afflictions. Years ago, distillery workers would shovel tons of malting barley hour after hour for long shifts. This hard work would sometimes cause their arm to hang down, a bit like a chimpanzee’s.

The men called this temporary affliction ‘monkey shoulder’ and so this Scottish whisky was named in their honour and their hard graft. Whilst the maltmen are among the few who still turn the barely manually, working conditions have changed, which means this injury has been consigned to the past.

Today, the name Monkey Shoulder lives on as an affectionate tribute to all the maltmen, past and present. Some say it tastes like riding bareback on the wild moors of Scotland with a flame haired maiden on Christmas morning. Others agree it tastes like 007 wearing a tuxedo wetsuit.

Monkey Shoulder itself is the world’s first triple blend single malt, combining the best malts from three of Speyside’s best distilleries. It’s basically the Megazord of the whisky world.

There’s not a single drop of grain whisky in Monkey Shoulder, and the chosen malts mature in first fill ex-bourbon casks. The distillery’s own coopers repair these ex-bourbon casks so that they impart a smooth and mellow vanilla flavour into the resting malt whisky. Mmmm… vanilla.

Monkey Shoulder whisky

Due to all this due diligence, it’s no surprise that Monkey Shoulder is one of the most highly awarded whiskys around, and recently won the St Francisco World Spirits competition 2016 Double Gold, as well as the Global Spirits Masters 2016: Master

If you haven’t tried it yet (firstly, shame on you), but you can get yourself a bottle at your local fine liquor store at a recommended retail price of R369 for a 750ml bottle of goodness.

Cheers!

PS. Here’s how to make a Monkey Apple cocktail in 20 seconds (the video takes that long, not the cocktail):

 

Also note, you have to be over the age 18 to consume alcohol, and even then, it must be enjoyed responsibly. No monkey business.

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