Sometimes life is a bitch. Sometimes the inane and unrelenting shit spray coming off the fan is blinding, and there’s so much weight on your shoulders you have to shimmy out of bed first thing in the morning. That’s not my excuse, but it does occasionally happen. Me, I’ve had a touch of the writer’s block, but in order to treat an illness, you have to identify the cause. It didn’t take too long before I was able to source this, it was a severe lack of motivation. Weariness. Apathy. Unfortunately, a lack of motivation and apathy are hard to treat, because it’s in the nature of the condition to make you, ya know…not give a fuck. Oh well. Well, it has taken a couple of volleys to break me past this blockade of mine, but here we are, on the other side.
Let me first explain the circumstances in which I have been able to overcome the apathy. A couple of weeks ago, a great and inspirational friend of mine came to visit me in my new home, a nice little cozy space that I’ve settled into with the result of additional weariness, because, moving does that. Anyways, my friend, we’ll call him Winston Legthigh, also tends to write, and has a very thorough understanding of what it’s like to wrestle with words until they get you in a chokehold and strangle you until you pass out. Mr. Legthigh, additionally, happens to be one of those friends who encourages the creative instinct, praises your driveling mind and understands that “you must lift him up, and never knock him down.” Anyways, Winston gave me a good shove in the right direction, while simultaneously understanding that it isn’t there, and there ain’t no use fishing in a bathtub. Then we got drunk. A couple of times, it was great. Given that this tends to be a whiskey blog, and not usually the pointless meanderings of a poor writer pontificating on the writing process; we decided that doing some tasting notes would be in good order for getting my good for nothing freeloading sphincter back on track.
Our muse, in this strange venture of reigniting the spark-plugs of my ½ horsepower heart, was a worthy one indeed, and one I’ve heard often mentioned of late. Monkey Shoulder, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky. See, I’d purchased this Monkey Shoulder as a portion of the stocking of my lovely bar in my new digs, enchanted by the bottle with the inlaid little monkeys, and even more so by the reviews I’d read of this whiskey which promised that it wasn’t just a charming name and bottle, but a credit to mid-priced blended scotch as a category entirely. Since mid-price tends to be my budget, I snapped at the promise of this distinctly styled dram. Enter two, slightly beyond mildly intoxicated fools, a sheet of paper, and here we are.
Before I compile these mad rumblings into a coherent review of a fine offering in the world of Scotch, let me give you an excerpt of our source material, to provide a glimpse into what we’re working with… “Earth, sweet mud of the bleeding fuckin dead. Let’s edit this tomorrow, else every other word will be a curse.” Ben, eh, I mean Winston…is a faithful scribe, bless his heart. Anyways, here’s an actual review, based on true events.
Over the course of our, shall we say, “extended tasting,” my compadre and I found this nose the most mysterious element of the whisky. At first we noted an orange peel note, one which was mellowed and mingled with a touch of light smoke and oak must, which slightly reminded me of a very pleasant composting smell, for some reason. Later in the night, perhaps our senses were heightened, or perhaps deeply and troublingly impaired, another note reached the nose, opening up that smoky note into something deeper recessed within the memory of any diehard New Englander, that of smoke rising off of a stuck on ice. Well, beyond that there are of course the constancies, a touch of straw and honey, and on more sober reflection, maybe a hint of elderflower to my current taste. For some reason we were also very pleased with the appearance of this pour, noting that the legs in our Glencairn glasses reminded us of those of a super-model, and the color was a touch richer than your average light honey, I believe the bullshit phrase I used was closer to a first-running maple syrup…but not that heavy.”
Of course, as things would go, we were not merely content to sniff at this, and we were sure to make a thorough go of tasting, indulging, delighting in our work, and of course this meant many tastings. A thirsty taste revealed rich honey notes, as well as a bit of dry oak and soft grain, which seemed to ripen, revealing a sweet almond note and perhaps some plum. Perhaps we were deluded, but that’s what we thought anyways. The mouthfeel was, per our very legible and descriptive notes, a soft-honey velvet consistency, rich, lightly oily and pleasing.
Finally, we note the finish, which is where our guest contributor seemed to have the most… unique…perspective. As we inhaled, passing the elixir onto its final resting place, Mr. Legthigh noted that the burn was light and localized, a point which I could not disagree with, and which he stated hit “…right between the tonsils. [The] Same spot you would use to self-induce vomiting.” Well said, old chap. The final aftertaste was rich, and lingered gently several minutes on the palette, with a touch of smoked meat revealing itself.
I can’t say that we’ve brought you any closer to the point with these insightful words of ours. What is there to say, really, for Monkey Shoulder? Well, it’s a pleasant Scotch, a gentle entry into the category, and welcoming for those who are not exactly wild about peat. Additionally, it’s very multi-dimensionally, and artfully blended to make a consistently intriguing taste, and at a fair price point. It’s also delightfully named, if you like monkeys—and if you don’t like monkeys, you’re really just a self-loathing sonuvabitch.