Type: Malt blend
Malt Mileage rating:
Monkey Shoulder is described as a “triple malt”, presumably because it marries single malt from three distilleries which are located in Scotland’s Speyside region. This means that Monkey Shoulder is all malt whisky, and there is no grain whisky in its recipe.
Monkey Shoulder select malts from these three distilleries and then age them in first fill ex-bourbon casks. A “first-fill ex-bourbon” cask is basically a cask that has matured bourbon whiskey and, after being emptied of the bourbon, ages Scotch malt for the very first time (hence the name, “first-fill”). These “first-fill” casks usually have a lot of flavour to give a malt because they’ve only been used once before to age bourbon (bourbon must be aged in new charred American oak barrels).
Best served with ice and dash of water in my opinion, the Monkey Shoulder whisky tastes of cocoa coated liqueur oranges, vanilla fudge, subtle toffee apple and spicy fruit mince pie with a dusting of cinnamon. The fiery malt is there in all its glory. The finish tastes mostly of orange peel and toasted wood, with hints of sultana. As the whisky becomes more and more diluted from the melting ice, it tastes more of mouth-coating buttery vanillas. When smelled neat, the whisky gives off a mildly grassy and malty aroma with orange cake, Jaffas lollies, caramel and apple.
Monkey Shoulder also does a fine job in a mixer or cocktail. With cola or in an Old Fashioned, the whisky’s citrus peel flavours shine without stealing too much of the limelight.
Tasted neat (without ice, water or a mixer) Monkey Shoulder struck me as a little – and I do mean a little – rough on the palate. But, at its price, this is easily forgiven in my humble opinion.
Overall, Monkey Shoulder is a tasty malt whisky that is perhaps one of the best value whiskies on the market.