If you’re after a Good Story, here’s a Small Tail

If you're after a Good Story, here's a Small Tail


Forget what you know about whisky. This is not about doing the normal. It’s about thinking and doing things differently. It’s Monkey Shoulder.

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 unusual 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 the 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. If you haven’t tried it yet, come pay us a visit at Durban’s Whisky Live Celebration, 1-3 June 2017 at Gateway Theatre of Shopping on the Umhlanga Ridge.