Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whiskey
I picked up this triple malt Scotch whiskey from Trader Joe’s. The company’s been around since 1887, and this spirit takes its name from a medical condition that men used to acquire from working the malt press. I imagine it wasn’t fun to deal with, but it is a fun name for a whiskey now!
The color is dusky yellow with a rose-orange pit that gives it personality. It shows plenty of leg, which is probably why I find it drinkable with one cube—I’m not that hardcore of a whiskey drinker, y’all. There’s subdued alcohol heat in the nose with something fruity buried deeper and beckoning. Maybe it’s berry, but I’ll call it apricot with allspice and clove.
The alcohol’s a lot hotter going down, but not so much so that I find it unpleasant. The burn is laced with caramel and that apricot, and then the spices take over boldly and strongly, bringing some cayenne with them. Okay, not some, but a lot of cayenne. This is an apricot masquerading as a caramel apple masquerading as a Hot Tamale candy.
Pretty good whiskey for the price point. It cost around $23. Husband says, “It’s a little weird.” I say, “It’s a new Willy Wonka invention.”
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Broadslab Legacy Reserve Hand-Crafted Liquor
Johnston County, North Carolina
This Broadslab liquor comes from a legacy of moonshiners according to the label. It’s corn heavy for a whiskey, but that moonshine history likely plays into that. Yellow corn is the coloring and it smells like corn, too, which either means that corn dominates its flavor profile or I’m not imaginative today. It also smells of root-vegetable starch or corn that has sat around for a while—which it has, ageing in charred oak barrels.
That picture has rocks added, obviously. Its taste is by the book for a whiskey, by which I mean it’s both tasty and lacking in anything particularly unique. I want to call what I taste caramel corn, but it’s closer to buttered popcorn that’s stayed a bit too long in the popper—believe me, I know of what I speak. I used to work in a movie theater, and you haven’t lived until you’ve had popcorn smothered in nacho cheese when you’re a broke college student on a break. I don’t mean that snack is good, just that it’s something to experience.
Add in some pepper and stale popcorn hits the mark as a descriptor. There’s definitely a spice kick on the backwash. I know stale popcorn doesn’t sound appealing, but I honestly don’t think this is a bad whiskey. It’s plenty smooth and flavorful, but it doesn’t stand out for me.
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Entrance to the distillery.
Back in the fall, I spent a few days at TOPO Distillery’s facilities as part of the Terra VITA Sustainable Classroom. It was a strange sort of torture being so close to their organic, 99.6% local (more on that later) array of spirits that includes white whiskey, vodka, and gin. So I asked Esteban McMahan, TOPO’s spirit guide, if he wouldn’t mind hosting a tour and tasting for food bloggers in the Triangle. And he said yes!
The evening started with us bloggers slowly trickling in, a few having fallen prey to the oft-made mistake of going to Top of the Hill restaurant and brewery down the road first. That restaurant provided us with some delicious appetizers.
Salmon, cucumber, and herb cream cheese bites.
The pork banh mi on crostada was especially delicious.
It’s also quite loud to crunch on when someone’s speaking. I may or may not know that from personal experience.
Esteban plied us with libations featuring their spirits as we filtered in, and I loved the blueberry cocktail.
It was made with blueberries, simple syrup, lemon juice, and TOPO gin. The gin was a subtle undercurrent, which suits me quite well as I can often find gin overpowering in a drink. Other drinks which I did not sample were a vesper cocktail, heavy on the gin with a pretty curl of lemon—
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