Monkey Shoulder is (angrily) reviewed by Steve Crotty.
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Approximate price £20 – 25
All signs point to the fact that I should love this. For those of you not in the know, the title ‘Blended Malt’ refers to the fact that this whisky is the bastard lovechild of different distilleries’ single malt expressions. You may have cleverly deduced that the Triple Malt indicates this is the product of three different distilleries. But you’d be wrong. Oh alright, you’re correct, just don’t be so smug about it.
Glenfiddich (I love most of their catalogue apart from the lifeless 12 year old), Balvenie (I love everything they do that I have tried to date) and Kininvie (a workhorse for the Grant’s blend, that has one, yes count them, ONE single malt bottling available) all go into creating Monkey Shoulder, which incidentally is also made by those roguish chaps at William Grant & Sons Ltd. The name derives from a condition that afflicted workers at distilleries in days of yore after turning malt by hand and, rather fantastically, the bottle has three monkeys on its shoulder.
The nose suggests nothing in particular. I gave it a good half hour to reach body temperature. I could have given it three weeks. I could have stuck it in an active volcano and the nose would still be woefully lacking in character, aroma, call it what you will. If this is the result of three Speysiders getting together for a jamboree, then maybe in future they should just communicate by carrier pigeon.
The drinking of Monkey Shoulder begins well, a subtle but mouth-watering application of banana Angel Delight is as curious as it is welcome. Then once again, nothing, bar a trace of malt that wouldn’t even satisfy a member of the Temperance Society (surely you mean ‘anger a member of the Temperance Society’? – Editor). The three Speyside single malts appear to have either all killed each other in a Reservoir Dogs-esque shootout, or have simply willed each other into submission. I thought long and hard, sensing this must be a failing on my part, that I must focus my mind to appreciate its quiet yet authoritative subtlety. Aha! I thought. Perhaps I’m drinking it in the wrong manner, and promptly poured a shot into my eye, which did nothing but leave me with a raging headache.
Judging by the price tag and marketing blurb this is placed as a classier and alternative drink to your bog-standard (i.e. high-selling) mixer whiskies. Well I tried that, having run out of patience and eyeballs to drink it neat. This it turns out, was an excellent idea, providing you love the taste of the mixer you’ve added it to, as this will be all you will taste. Thus I found myself at five o clock in the evening nursing a sore eyeball, a pounding headache and an alcoholic coke that had been slightly spoiled. Damn it I was supposed to enjoy this whisky.
Overall Rating 5/10
(Editor’s comment: Monkey Shoulder makes the finest ‘Irish coffee’ going, in my opinion. Or Scotch coffee. Whatever.)