Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Monkey on my back (a whiskey review)

monkey_shoulder_large_pic While in London, we stopped by The Whiskey Shop,  near St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The shop is tucked back in an alley, and one that I’ve wanted to visit for some time.  The shop is great and I would I highly recommend stopping by while there.

Anyway, while there, I picked out several bottles to bring back and the first to be reviewed is Monkey Shoulder.

I will admit, my eye was initially caught by the marketing….with a name like Monkey Shoulder jumping right out at me.  A further saying on the bottle, “Don’t be a drunken monkey, drink responsibly” further convinced me that this bottle would be MINE.

I was glad none of the bottles broke in transit, especially this one…..the coveted first review.

Monkey Shoulder is a small batch blended Scotch from three Speyside whiskeys (I would love to know which ones), that is then matured in bourbon casks prepared and maintained by their own coopers (a dyeing art).

The actual maturation and cask selection appears to be a pretty guarded secret (aren’t they all these days) and only two people are involved in the selection of the 27 casks used for each blended batch.

Their website is actually really nice, although a little “Flash-tastic” for my tastes.  This caused some load delays, but returning to the site 10 minutes later improved performance.

At the site, you can; get a little background, learn about events and see some of their recipes for mixed drinks.  Not being one to use scotch as a mixer (aside from the Islay Margarita), I initially gave this only a quick glance…..but after tasting, I might give a Monkey Manhattan a try at a future date.

So, I am sure you are wondering…….how was the drink.

I tried it two different ways, neat and splashed with water.

NOSE – Both with and without water, the nose carried a scent of caramel with orange overtones.  I was reminded of those chocolate oranges you get every year at Christmas (with only a hint of dark chocolate).  When splashed with water, the nose became a little more subdued….smoother (if a scent can become “smooth”).

Color– The color reminded me of the Clover Honey my parents raised when I was a child, and the whiskey didn’t have any “legs” on the glass like some of the “heavier” whiskeys (such as Balvenie) and was instead very smooth in the glass.

TASTE – I was caught somewhat off guard by the initial sweetness of the drink (Honey),  and overall it was very smooth and creamy.  There were
notes of smoke and oakyness, but nowhere as pronounced as some of the peat-bombs I normally drink.  

FINISH – The finish was very smooth, almost melting down the back of my throat , with a hint of sea salt and lingering fruityness (orange again). 

Splashed water brings out the caramel in the tasting, smoothes some of the rough spots (bringing it into the range of some non-scotch drinker palettes) and (IMO) brings out the fruityness.  I actually got a hint of coconut this way.

Overall I was really impressed with this blend and would highly recommend it to to anyone (even non-scotch drinkers….I’m looking at you Charlie). 

If I were to rate it, I would give it a B+

As an added bonus, it appears they have sponsored one of my favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Pipers, and have a video of them on their website.  That is always a plus.

I have included a YouTube of the band to maybe get you in the mood for a scotch tonight.

Until next time….Cheers


  1. Hi S&B,

    Monkey is a gem and is carrying the flag as the future of the scotch industry.

    They make up the triple malt from Glenfiddich, Balvenie and the lesser known malt - Kininvie.

    My fav drink off the web is the Show me the Monkey (great name) - was also at the Burns night celebrations with the Chillis - amazing.


  2. Sim...thanks for the insight. I will say I was pleasantly surprised by this one, now I just need to find a US Distributor.


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