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Article: Monkey Shoulder review

Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky

Monkey Shoulder review

‘Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the Cambridge Union. I know tonight is a debate that many of us have been waiting for. It sees a star studded line up debating one of the biggest issues of today. The exact motion being debated tonight is: ‘This House Believes Animal Names Should Not be used as Insults.’ As ever the debate is a series of alternating speeches, first a proposition and then an opposition and so on. To make a Point of Information, which you may do at anytime, please stand up and say ‘a point of information’ or ‘on that point’. If the speaker takes your point, and we hope they will, please state your name and college before you start speaking. I think that’s all from me. Our first speakers tonight are the esteemed gentlemen from TopWhiskies.’        

‘Thank you. Calling someone a fat whale is cruel, nasty and boorish. But worse still, it's inaccurate. Blue whales, the largest animals to have lived, are certainly hefty creatures, but they're far from fat. According to the University of California, Santa Cruz's Long Marine Lab, blue whales' blubber makes up as little as 20% of their total body weight. For humans, 20% body fat is considered “good to excellent” in both men and women. And the monkey. Monkeys are nestled only a few branches away from humans in the family tree, but that hasn't spared them from becoming synonymous with an unflattering term: ‘Monkey Shoulder.’

Naming a whisky after a painful ligament is strange. It refers to malt men spending too long bending over turning barley by hand, causing a repetitive-strain type injury to their shoulder. Although one component of the blend (The Balvenie) still prides itself on having its barley hand-turned, modern working practices have eliminated the whisky industry’s equivalent of tennis elbow. Along with The Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie whisky complete the blend. All three are aged in first fill bourbon casks before being blended in very small batches (27 casks at a time). The blend is further aged before being bottled and badged with three cheeky monkeys. It is one of our favourites and undeserving of its unflattering name and reputation:

Nose: Hordes of dandelions and some other darker floral notes that attract flightily butterflies but couldn’t tempt a discerning wasp.

Mouth: A moth-eaten wool coat with a splash of English Leather cologne inside an octogenarian’s winter closet.

Throat: Fading hint of peppermint, dry oaky tannins and a bit of charcoal on the tail

TopWhiskies Score

Monkey Shoulder is a kind and gentle introduction to whisky for your mates who think whisky is something you add to Coke. That said, some catty people will say Monkey Shoulder is made for mixing. And they are right, it is great for a whisky forward cocktail and it is wonderful in a … yes, alright. You in the back, Go ahead.’  

3 / 5 – Buy a measure of it. Everybody's got to believe in something. We believe we’ll have another of these.

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