It's been over a month since I last wrote a review, so I'm glad to be back at it. My KWM Whisky Advent Calendar just arrived, and in a couple of weeks I'm judging at the World Whiskies Awards for the second year, so I figured I should get back into practice. Thought I'd settle in easy with something that is, well, really easy.
Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt from William Grant & Sons, launched in 2005 with the clear and stated intention of providing bartenders with an approachable but high-quality whisky to use in cocktails. Unsurprisingly, it is comprised of malts from Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie. The batch number given is 27, though that just refers to the 27 casks that make up each batch. The name refers to a condition the maltmen would get from turning the barley back in the day - cute name but referencing a workplace injury that the distillery would be responsible for (and likely didn't cover treatment or compensation of any kind back in olden tymes) is kinda weird. But then again, it's also weird to be a connoisseur analyzing a spirit that was not intended to be appreciated whatsoever, but was made expressly for mixing. Well, let's see.
The colour is a soft gold. On the nose it is very citrusy - not lemon or lime but orange, particularly sharp peel. Light milk chocolate, lots of honey (think orange blossom), vanilla custard, butterscotch and overripe apple. Water doesn't do much, so don't bother. Pleasant, very desserty.
Creamy mouthfeel on the palate with more honey, vanilla and butterscotch. The orange takes a bit of a back seat, and some cloves are added to the mix. Marmalade. Banana. Soft oak - very soft - and yet even softer with water. With time a chili-lime note shows up. It's starting to look a lot like Christmas.
The medium-length finish is peppery, sweet and a little rough. If you think of all the whiskies you've tried in your entire life and pulled a few consistent notes from all of them to create the most generically pleasing whisky you could imagine, you'll probably come up with something like this. Is there anything wrong with it? Not really. Is there anything right with it? Well, it's not terrible. This is as middle-of-the-road as late 70s Carly Simon on the FM dial during the morning drive. Mix away.