Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt (a mixture of malt whiskies from different distilleries, not containing grain whisky) that has been on the market for almost a decade (since 2005). It sells for a very reasonable price - around $30. Yet, somehow it had eluded me until recently. Events aligned to make Monkey Shoulder a part of a number of evenings over this summer. It all started a few months ago when I attended a Tasting Table barbecue with NYC food and whisky blogger Susannah Skiver Barton (@whattastesgood) of whattastesgood.net. She blogged about the event at:
One of the featured cocktails at the event was made with Monkey Shoulder (the "Summmer Jam". See Susannah's post for the recipe). Attending the event was a voluble and fascinating young Englishman named Freddie May (@oloroso) who reps Monkey Shoulder (among other interesting whiskies and spirits) for William Grant & Sons. We had a fascinating conversation about whisky: maturation, mashing, barrel management and the William Grant operations. Stuff like that. My whisky geek monkey bone was tweaked.
|Susannah Skiver Barton toasts a Summer Jam with Freddie May|
|Nicholas Rotondi of Exposure: party meister|
Monkey Shoulder Batch 27 43% abv.Color: Full Gold
Nose: Honey, malt, heather, floral bloom, wax, apple, green melon, hint of anise. There's also a bit of distant musky almost meaty animal smell behind those sweet fruits. All of these elements are gentle and light - yet sweet and satisfying. It's a very pretty nose. For the price it's stunning.
The palate after a sufficient amount of airing (20 minutes) is malt sweet on entry, with vanilla pods and florals. Honey and honeycomb wax big - with an attractive aspect of Speyside classic apple pear and melon fruits. Warm and malty on the expansion with some white pepper. 43% isn't the norm at this price and it brings some richness and a bit of intensity that I greatly appreciate. The finish is gentle and relatively short. But this doesn't come off as too young. The spirit heat is well integrated into the malty richness. Sweetness and fruits with a relative absence of oak tannins or bite are the hallmarks of youth here. The palate isn't huge, but the sins are of omission rather than commission. This comes off as a quality highland malt with a classic Speyside profile. You can taste the Glenfiddich and the Balvenie in it in the green fruits, honey, and sweet balance. It's a fine malt to relax with, at a price that you can use heedlessly. I've had the opportunity to dram it in a variety of circumstances and its gentle sweetness is immediately appealing with people new to malt whisky. Yet there is enough going on to satisfy experienced malt fans (as long as they don't have their peat freak or thinking caps on). Gentle, sweet, fruity and appealing. Easily recommended.