Monkey Shoulder (40%, OB, Batch 27, 2013)
- Malt blend, NAS, 40% ABV, £25 for 70cl
- Score 62/100
What they say:
The journey begins when we select three of Speyside’s finest malts and allow them to mature in Bourbon casks prepared by our own coopers. The maturation process and cask selection are the exclusive responsibilities of the renown Malt Master, David Stewart, and his assistant. Only they know the exact length of maturation required and only when they are completely happy do they select a batch of 27 casks for blending, having tasted each one individually for quality and consistency. After further cask ageing at and just the right moment, the Malt Master decides when the whisky is ready for bottling and worthy of the signature metal monkeys that declare it to be Monkey Shoulder Triple Malt Scotch Whisky.
Cheers to the men of the maltings. At one time, Monkey Shoulder referred to a temporary injury suffered by the malt men when turning the barley by hand. Whilst our malt men are among the few who still turn the barley manually, working conditions are now such that fortunately the injury has been consigned to the past. Today the name Monkey Shoulder lives on as an affectionate tribute to the malt-men of yore in recognition of the times they suffered for their art.
Nose: Delicate floral notes are intertwined with a zesty citrus orange and fresh soft fruits (peaches and apricots). Hints of honey and spicy oak enveloped with a rich vanilla sweetness.
Taste: Beautifully sweet and a rich vanilla flavour. Brown sugar and creamy toffee balanced with oak notes and just a hint of spice (cinnamon and nutmeg).
Finish: Exceptionally smooth with a lingering sweetness.
On its own it’s smooth and rich. However, this is a whisky that loves company and shows its versatility in cocktails.
What I say:
I purchased a 5cl miniature of the infamous Monkey Shoulder ‘triple malt’ from ASDA for £3 to see what this thoroughly modern blend was all about. This is from the brains at William Grant & Sons and is marketed as a hip new whisky for cocktail making and occasionally drinking as it comes. The blend is made from [likely] young spirit matured in bourbon oak casks from their Speyside distilleries; Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Kininvie. The single malts are blended by one of the most experienced Malt Masters in the industry, David Stewart, and are likely vatted together for final maturation before bottling. The result is a highly drinkable but young tasting mixture that is not un-similar to a single malt.
Rich gold colour [which may be thanks more to added caramel than cask-derived]
Initially new paint and nail polish remover [acetones] gives way to ripe bananas [esters] or banana fritters and golden syrup
Again ripe bananas, brown sugar and vanilla custard with some cereal malt. This feels very light in the mouth, and is very smooth.
The finish is surprisingly long with a barley sugar sweetness that just continues on and on
Would I buy it again:
Probably not, though I much prefer this to malt & grain mixed blended whisky. At this price, or cheaper, there are plenty of pure single malts that have much more character and complexity [e.g. Old Pulteney 12 Years Old, Aberlour 10 Years Old or even The Balvenie Doublewood if found on offer] that I would rather spend my money on. However, I could be very cruel and buy this just to fool my anti-blend whisky snobs/friends as I think they would be hard-pressed on blind tasting to recognise this as a blend. In the end I think this is an interesting experiment and well-marketed attempt to sell palatable young spirit and perhaps convert or introduce younger or new drinkers to malt whisky. If I bought a full bottle, I expect I would be rapidly mixologising this to empty the bottle asap.