You probably haven’t heard of the yummy whisky with the funny name, but Monkey Shoulder whisky should be on your (and everyone else’s) lips right now. The new-ish whisky has been dazzling U.K. drinkers for about six years now, but we’re just now seeing it stateside. And they chose Chicago for their first US launch. And let me tell you—their coming out party was not one to be missed. They pulled out all the stops to introduce this distinctive scotch whisky to a thirsty crowd at The Bedford. Contortionists twisted themselves into positions that would even make a snake jealous, and jugglers did all kinds of things with balls. There was even a section where you could do a photo shoot with swords and other sharp, shiny things. Can you guess that this is not your average whisky? In fact, that could even be its tagline—‘Monkey Shoulder: definitely not your average whisky’ or ‘Monkey Shoulder: not for the faint of heart.’
I think it’s safe to say that Monkey Shoulder exudes a fun and contemporary feel, while also being expertly and seriously crafted. The scotch is a blend of three of Speyside’s finest Single Malt scotches. It is matured in Bourbon casks. The casks help to smooth the texture and flavors of the scotch, so that it’s highly appealing to myriad palates, while also working really well as a mixer or base for cocktails. The honey, brown sugar and vanilla notes work well in cocktails.
The fun name of Monkey Shoulder and the term ‘monkey shoulder,’ comes from the achy pain on their shoulders that distillers experienced when turning malt barley by hand and wooden schiel. They felt as if a monkey was sitting on their shoulder, and thus, the term and scotch name, were born.
Monkey Shoulder is truly a craft whisky—only 27 cases are made, so get your hands on some ASAP. In Chicago, you can give it a whirl at The Bedford, 1612 W Division, and a few other bars, and in select liquor stores. For those of you itching to work the kinks out of your “monkey shoulder” in other parts of the country, you’ll have to wait a bit. The next lucky state will be Texas later on this year. But if you’re clever enough to acquire some Monkey Shoulder now, try out this delicious cocktail at home:
- 2 parts Monkey Shoulder
- 1 ½ parts sweet vermouth
- ½ part maraschino liqueur
- 3 dashes of chocolate bitters
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add cold, dry ice and stir. Once dilution is reached, strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.
Photo credits Caleb Condit
Editor's Disclosure: J'nai was invited to this event as media