The long process of turning barley by hand with shovels took its toll on the malt men of the past. Long shifts of throwing barley high into the air to dry it out lead to a slightly strange condition, whereby one arm of the malt man would hang down just a little further than the other; this is what was known in the trade as having the "Monkey Shoulder".
Thankfully, with more modern techniques in the whisky making process, Monkey Shoulder (the ailment) is a thing of the past, whilst Monkey Shoulder (the Whisky) is a lasting reminder of the hard work and dedication of the malt men of yester-year.
Monkey Shoulder’s history began with William Grant, who put his entire life savings of £755 into the construction of Glenfiddich distillery in 1886. Five years later Balvenie was opened on the same site as Glenfiddich, and almost a century later they were joined by Kininvie in 1990.
It would be a natural progression for Grant and Sons to combine the malt of those three distilleries into a single, new, blended malt. So, in 2005, they did just that, and Monkey Shoulder was born!
In 2012 the brand launched in the United States but due to its unforeseen rapid popularity in that market, Monkey Shoulder fell into short supply for much of 2014.
Now back up to full production capacity, the Monkey Shoulder brand has become a firm favourite of Scotch whisky lovers the world over!
On the Nose
Initially a fruity note, like some some kind of rich, slightly under ripe, orange. Maybe even marmalade, mixed with some nutmeg and clove.
There is a underlying fresh vanilla pod which is quite prominent the more you explore the smell of this blended scotch.
On the Palate
Firstly - an easy one to drink! Not harsh, and very soothing. An almost creamy texture, with some light distant red berry fruit.
Butterscotch... and a really strange minty finish, almost like a mint was dropped into the barrel a few days before it was bottled. 😄
Don’t. It’s 40% and with water it just becomes bland. Much better to enjoy as is.
For the price, a very reasonable blended whisky from Speyside distilleries. A decent blended whisky to keep "in stock" in your collection for the occasional unfussy dram.
Want to Try?
Oh, and if you really love it, but like a smokey dram too, you can get some Smokey Monkey Shoulder HERE.