WhiskyCritic recently had the opportunity to try some Monkey Shoulder blended malt whisky – in both cocktail and neat form – but the results were similar.
Monkey Shoulder was introduced to the world 16 years ago as a blend of a trio [as indicated by the number of monkeys on the bottles] of Speyside whiskies and is generally touted as a mixing whisky to produce flavorful cocktails. For some cocktails, this may work out wonderfully, for others – beware.
WC first tried a dollop of Monkey Shoulder solo – not its forte, but WC wanted to give it a chance to impress without a cocktail’s distracting flavors. It did not go well. The Monkey Shoulder WC was served was not up to par of some other finer whiskies WC has tried in the past. It was harsh and no, WC was not trying the Smokey Monkey, the Monkey Shoulder infused with peated Highland malt amongst the original three Speyside malts. That harshness lingered and never fully dissipated over time.
As for the cocktail, it was a disaster. The cocktail was entitled “Smokeshow” and incorporated smoke from a wood fire into the glass, which only served to obscure the Monkey Shoulder and any other flavors attempting to emerge, making it similar to to drinking a liquid version of a campfire. WC, however, will not lay any blame for this on the Monkey Shoulder as it was an unwilling participant in the mess. WC feels that Monkey Shoulder can be okay – not great – in a cocktail, but this, unfortunately, was not the one.
For the Monkey Shoulder cocktail, WC gives that a 67 out of a 100 [and WC is being generous with that] while for the Monkey Shoulder proper, WC “grants” a slightly better, but still uninspiring 71 out of 100.