One of the great milestones in the history of distillation was the advent of blending spirits together to obtain something that's more than the sum of its parts. Melding different whiskies into a unified, cohesive spirit is such a rarified skill that only a handful of individuals can lay claim to the title of malt master. When done with skill and intuition, the various elements meld together into something genuinely sensational—a spirit made better for every strand in its blend. It's hard to imagine a better example than Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky.
This extraordinary spirit is distilled, matured and bottled in Dufftown, Scotland. It is a blend of hand selected single malts from three Speyside distillers. As is the case with single malts, Monkey Shoulder is 100% malt and contains no grain whiskies. But unlike single malts, the whiskies used in Monkey Shoulder are crafted at different distilleries. Technically that makes it a blended triple-malt Scotch.
For each small batch of Monkey Shoulder, malt masters David Stewart and Brian Kinsmen blend together 27 casks of malts, after which it is matured in first fill bourbon barrels. The 86-proof (43% alcohol by volume) whisky makes no age statement.
Monkey Shoulder is in a class of its own. The amber/golden whisky has a velvety, medium-weight body and a glorious nose of heather honey, citrus zest, vanilla, cacao, toasted oak and fresh fruit. Its aromatics are engaging and make it well worth the price of admission. The whisky raises minimal heat as it bathes the palate with the semisweet flavors of vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate and baking spice. The finish is long, flavorful and eminently satisfying.
Critically acclaimed Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt is a treat for the senses. By all means sample it neat or with a splash of spring water. That said, its depth of character makes it an ideal malt to feature in classic cocktails, say a Rob Roy or a Rusty Nail.
Finally, what's with the name? Well, the name Monkey Shoulder pays tribute to the industry's craftsmen of old, specifically the malt-men who would turn the drying barley using long wooden paddles. It was an arduous job and often resulted in a temporary ailment of the same name.
Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky should be on every malt aficionado's bucket list. Kudos!