Monkey Shoulder is a blend of 3 Speyside whiskys; Kininvie, Balvenie and Glenfiddich, all of which are owned by William Grant & Sons, as is Monkey Shoulder. If I were to guess based on the marketing of the product (have a look at its website, for example) it would seem to be an attempt to reach a younger audience than is usual for a single malt. The bottle has a nice, almost American, design which ought to go down with most age groups though – I, for one, like it.
The question, then, is whether they have let fact that they are reaching for a younger audience affect the quality of the whisky, and for once I will cut through the fuss and get straight to the answer: no they have not. For a blend in its price range ($35), it is actually rather nice, but then coming from William Grant & Sons you would expect it to be.
The nose is nice and sweet with sherry, not quite ripe plum, cinnamon sprinkled baked pears (pretentious, I know, but I think that describes it better than pear and cinnamon separately), butterscotch, barley and strawberry. There is also a distinctively Bourbon-esque vanilla note. Very pleasant nose, I would rate it highly amongst blends so far as aroma goes.
The palate is surprisingly tangy with a heathery/sweet nutty honey sweetness which is paired with tinned fruit, citrus and mint. Towards the end you’ll also notice some oak notes and orange peel which stay in the finish which is medium-long. The nose is more impressive, but the palate has nothing to be ashamed of. I could see this going really well in a Rob Roy, actually.
Color: Caramel golden.
Nose: Sherry, young plum, cinnamon baked pear, butterscotch, barley, strawberry and Bourbon vanilla.
Palate: Tangy, sweet nut/heather honey, tinned fruit, citrus, mint, oak, orange peel.
Want to buy this whisky? Available in: UK, Europe & World (click)