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Whisky, it is fair to say, can make for an expensive hobby. Even more so, if we end up disappointed with the bottle we bring home. Naturally, one can seek opinions through blogs such as this but there is really no substitute for experiencing something first hand. Sampling before making a purchase is invaluable and must be pursued at every opportunity whether through local tasting events or dedicated whisky clubs, a well-stocked bar or a respectable retailer, happy to pour a nip or two.
Then there are miniatures. Handy and affordable 5cl bottles which provide a dram or two with which to inform one’s purchase. Though the trend towards bottling in miniature form seems to be dwindling, they remain a useful way to broaden our horizons.
A 70cl bottle of Monkey Shoulder will set you back as little as £25, but for the purposes of this review I was able to buy a miniature for the paltry sum of just £3. Not a lot to risk were I taking a stab in the dark at a new malt.
Monkey Shoulder is produced by William Grant & Sons (whom you may remember from my review of Glenfiddich 15), sometimes called a triple malt because it’s a blend of three single malts: Glenfiddich, Kininvie and Balvenie. The rather bizarre name derives from an injury suffered by distillery workers in the old days… Working the malting floor, turning grain with shovels all day long was back-breaking work and often led to a painful injury which was dubbed “monkey shoulder”. While very few distilleries operate their own malt floor today, the name acts as an affectionate tribute to the hardy maltmen of old.
Monkey Shoulder is bottled at just 40% though, in fairness, it is intended and marketed as an easy drinker and even uses its own website to highlight its usefulness as a cocktail ingredient.
Smell: Honey, Chocolate & Fudge, Heather and Coffee
Taste: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Salted Caramel, Cocoa and Coffee.
Thoughts: The flavour profile is a little light for my personal taste but you can’t really argue with a £25 bottle of malt whisky. It’s affordable, approachable and inoffensive, which means it won’t scare anyone away. Scotch whisky will always need crowd-pleasing bottles and Monkey Shoulder does that pretty well. Can’t help but wonder what it might be like at 46% though.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.