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Monkey Shoulder Blended Whisky Impressions


What is it? 

Distillery: William Grant & Sons Ltd., Scotland
Name: Monkey Shoulder, Batch 27 Smooth and Rich
Make: Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Extra Info: The name 'Monkey Shoulder' comes from an old distillery term for a strain injury often suffered by workers tasked to turn the malt by hand. Floor malting, where the barley is spread out over a malting floor and seeped in water, is a traditional method for making the barley germinate or sprout. The trick is to frequently toss or turn the barley with large malt shovels in order to prevent the sprouts from intertwining and clumping together. When the barley has germinated just the right amount to maximise sugar yield, it is dried in a kiln to stop the process and the finished product is called Malt.

Why did I buy it?

I bought a bottle of Monkey Shoulder for two reasons. It is cheap, coming in at around the mid-range for your most popular blended whiskies but still half the price of an entry-level single malt. I don't want to just write about expensive whisky. Not everyone feels the same way as I do about spending $100+ on a single bottle. You can pick up a bottle of Monkey Shoulder for under 50 bucks in Australia which for us, is cheap. Secondly, despite its relatively low price tag, Monkey Shoulder is a blend of only malt Scotch whisky, like the Compass Box Peat Monster. No cheaper grain whisky is utilised, like in most other blended Scotch whiskies including big names like Johnnie Walker.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: One of the best-looking bottles out there. A simple clear glass bottle with a pirate map-esk label, is set off by a distinctive and unique metal motif of three monkeys (one for each malt scotch used in the blend) pressed into the glass.

Appearance: Orange-gold in colour, almost certainly with some additional caramel colouring and chill-filtered. Bottled at 40% ABV.

Aroma: Fruity, honey and orange.

Flavour: I try blended whiskies a variety of ways, neat, on the rocks, with Coke, etc. Monkey Shoulder didn't really appeal to my palate taken neat or on the rocks. I preferred it with soda water and ice.
Smooth, with a hint of woody spice. Very easy to drink, no alcohol burn to speak of, at least to my abused taste buds. Fruity flavours like sweet banana, but overall unremarkable. 

Finish: Very little going on, not unusual for a blend. Slightly bitter aftertaste.

Would I buy it again?

No, but I would recommend it to others. Monkey Shoulder is a cheap blended whisky that doesn't taste cheap and nasty. No cheaper grain whisky is used in the blend and it is perfectly fine to drink neat, on ice or with the mixer of your choice if it appeals to your tastes. Personally, I would rather spend a little more money on my 'mixing whisky' and get something that appeals more to my own palate and drinking habits, but that is just me. If you like Monkey Shoulder then there is no reason to look any further for a quality go-to whisky.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.


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