Everyone loves a mystery. It draws us in and makes us feel a part of something larger than ourselves. It’s why bartenders who know the stories behind the products they use are the “bar stars” because they share that knowledge with their customers in an entertaining way. Certainly you do, right?
Today’s mystery involves the name of a new whisky from Scotland, and I’m about to solve it for you. “Monkey Shoulder” sounds like a college rock band or an obscure village in New Zealand. However, it actually has a connection with whisky making.
Back in the days when distilleries malted their barley on the floor of the factory, they would employ “maltsters”, men hired to manually turn the germinating grains by hand with large wooden paddles. You can imagine that doing this for hours at a time would do two things: give you one hell of an upper body workout and 2) give you very sore muscles. It was said that it felt like a monkey was sitting on their shoulders by the end of the day.
Although not many distilleries still hand turn their malt, Monkey Shoulder does. Thankfully, no one there has developed this unusually named symptom.
The whisky is a mix of three Speyside single malts, distilled and aged in first fill Bourbon Barrels. The master distiller chooses 27 barrels which will make up the ultimate blend.
Monkey Shoulder is distilled under the supervision of William Grants & Sons in Dufftown, Scotland and is currently available in the U.S. in Chicago and in Texas later this year.
Monkey Shoulder Whisky (86 proof)
Visual: Heathery gold.
Nose: Some smoke with sweet roasted malt notes. Also some brief whiffs of orange and honey come through.
Taste: Very smooth with notes of dried apricot and cherry, hazelnut, caramel, vanilla, carrot, cinnamon sugar and walnut bread.
Finish: Just the slightest amount of smoke with a lot of residual sweetness.
Overall: Quite fine and a tremendous blended Scotch.
GSN Rating: A
For more information go to: Monkey Shoulder