Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt whisky produced by William Grant & Sons and contains a mixture of single malts from the brand's Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie distilleries. Matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks, the whiskies were then vatted for around 6 months before being bottled at 43% ABV.

Created by the now-retired legendary Master Blender, David Stewart, in 2005, Monkey Shoulder was conceived as a blended malt whisky made for mixing. In fact, the brand is the title sponsor of the annual "Ultimate Bartender" competition which tests participant bartenders on 7 crucial skills needed to earn the top spot. 

With no less than twelve cocktail recipes featuring Monkey Shoulder listed on their site, it's evident that the spirit plays nicely in a mixed drink - but how would it hold up on its own, neat?

Nose: Loads of vanilla and honey with fresh cut pears and a whiff of orange zest.

Palate: Rich and full-bodied showing an almost buttery texture within the honeyed sweetness. More of that lovely vanilla, flecked with toasted coconut, alongside candied orange peel and pears. 

Finish: Gently warming with a hit of cloves and nutmeg. Honeyed and mouth-coating, the moderately long finish is subtle, smooth and a bit dessert-like.  

Overall: An excellent blended malt that's very approachable and shows good structure; a real crowd-pleaser. Good on it's own or mixed in a cocktail; Monkey Shoulder is a versatile whisky that's bound to appeal to those who are new to the world of Scotch whiskies. 
Priced at the upper level of reasonableness at $65.05 in the LCBO, Monkey Shoulder is a relatively common sight on store shelves. If they are smart, they should hold the line on the price increases lest the march of premiumization put this whisky into the realm of the ridiculous. By way of comparison, I paid $60  for a 1L bottle at the Pearson International Airport duty free and felt it to be priced appropriately but I would probably think twice about paying more than it's currently listed for 250ml less. That said, it's a quality dram even if its value proposition is on the decline in Ontario.  

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