World-renowned whisky brand Monkey Shoulder has appointed Samuel Ng as its new Brand Ambassador for the Asia Pacific region, with his expertise, commitment to his craft and fun-loving personality making him an ideal fit for the role. We decided to speak to him to pick his brains about all things monkey magic, and find out more about why the iconic blended malt whisky is made for mixing.
Can you introduce yourself?
Originally born in Malaysia, I later lived and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. Before I started with Monkey Shoulder, I was a fine-dining chef for a number of years, followed by a change to bartending. I worked at a number of excellent drinking establishments, finally culminating with my time as the GM of the internationally acclaimed Melbourne cocktail bar, The Black Pearl. My time there was a turning point in my career, and together with the team, we achieved an incredible number of awards, both internationally and locally.
What is the philosophy behind the whisky that is produced by Monkey Shoulder?
Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt whisky that was born to challenge convention and change the way people think about and drink Scotch. While our brand is about being unconventional and playful in the way we bring great Scotch to a new generation of whisky drinkers, we take the production of quality whisky very seriously. Monkey Shoulder is made from small batches of different Speyside single malts which are then blended together and combined with fruity aromas as well as mellow vanilla notes, to produce a great whisky that’s ultimately made for mixing. Our hope is to inspire whisky drinkers to have fun, get a little experimental and discover the various flavours Monkey Shoulder can help to create.
Where did Monkey Shoulder get its name from?
Great question – interestingly, our brand name is actually inspired by how whisky is made. In the traditional malt whisky-making process, malted barley is turned by hand by malt men using large heavy malt shovels. Over the years, some men would develop a strain injury which caused their arm to hang down a little, similar to a monkey’s – hence the name Monkey Shoulder! While the condition no longer exists, we’re still proud to honour our whisky heritage.
Can you tell us about the #MadeForMixing campaign?
Overall, #MadeForMixing seeks to inject a little fun into the Scotch category, and create opportunities for consumers to experience whisky in a whole myriad of cocktails instead of just on the rocks or neat. Especially in an established Single Malt market like Malaysia, my mission as Brand Ambassador for Monkey Shoulder is to show you that you can have fun with whisky – no more stuffy rules!
Looking ahead to 2021 we’ll be launching #makeitmonkey, a brand campaign that’s focused on showcasing Monkey Shoulder’s cheeky personality, and inviting everyone to join us in indulging in a little playful escapism. We can’t wait to share more details about this exciting campaign, so do stay tuned to @monkeyshouldersea for updates.
Can you share with us a cocktail recipe you like making?
I’m happy to make you any cocktail, but I do particularly love a “Rob Roy”. I’ve adapted my recipe from the classic Manhattan recipe out of Jerry Thomas’ 1887 Bartender Guide. My version is not strictly traditional, but my palette seems to like the twist I’ve added to it.
- 45ml Monkey Shoulder
- 50ml Sweet vermouth (I like Dolin Rouge)
- 7ml PF Curacao
- 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir and strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.
Tell us something about Monkey Shoulder that not many might be aware of?
Monkey Shoulder was designed to be mixed, by anyone, and in anything! On the label it reads “Batch 27” which refers to the 27th iteration of our recipe before release. The Batch 27 flavour profile was found to be the most delicious in all drinking situations, and is now the standard to which we blend Monkey Shoulder.
What is the most common misconception about Monkey Shoulder?
That Scotch should only be drunk a certain way, ie. over ice, or neat, maybe with a little water. Monkey Shoulder is all about changing that traditional whisky mentality. Throw it into a cocktail, have it in a highball, mix it with coconut water, or even with root beer. It’s delicious in all scenarios!
How has Covid-19 affected the brand?
It’s been a tough time for bars and the F&B industry as a whole, but it is heartening to see how resilient some bars are and how the community rallies together to support each other. At Monkey Shoulder, not unlike other industries, Covid-19 has forced us to move all our activities online – from training sessions, to engaging our fellow counterparts around the region and even my most recent introduction to Malaysian media. In Singapore where I am based, we’ve been supporting local bars by way of the #WGSBarBack program.
Do you have any upcoming initiatives?
Of course! In the year ahead, we do have some interesting initiatives coming up and I hope I’ll be able to travel across the border sometime next year to meet everyone in person (and indulge in some amazing local food). While I can’t reveal too much at the moment, do stay tuned to our social channels @monkeyshouldersea or find me at @themonkeymagik to keep updated!
| PHOTOGRAPHY: MONKEY SHOULDER | WEBSITE: MONKEY SHOULDER |