Day Ten in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent.

Monkey Shoulder is a true Blended Malt Scotch Whisky. That means it’s the product of multiple single malt scotches. In this case, it’s from their 2 neighboring Speyside distilleries. That means it includes whisky from Kininvie, Balvenie, and Glenfiddich, all of which are owned by William Grant & Sons.

monkey shoulderHistory

Kininvie Distillery is the creator of Monkey Shoulder. The distillery itself has only been open since 1990, but they’ve partnered with others in a few really wonderful creations. Normally their whisky is used in blends like Clan MacGregor. They’ve only released two single malts, Hazelwood 105 15yr and Hazelwood Reserve. I have a bottle of the Hazelwood 15yr, and I can honestly say I’m not a fan.

But Monkey Shoulder is something else. And it’s tasty. Where did get its name? I’ll let their own website answer that question.

The term ‘monkey shoulder’ harks back to our whisky making heritage. It’s a reference to a condition that maltmen sometimes picked up while working long shifts, turning the barley by hand. It had a tendency to cause their arm to hang down a bit like a monkey’s, so they nicknamed it ‘monkey shoulder’.


As usual, it has the Speyside carmel in the nose, but the grass and earth that Kininvie brings mixes with the caramel and lightness of the Balvenie. Not sure where Glenfiddich is in the smell, but we’ve only just begun.

If I remember correctly, there was a kind of aniseed funk in the Hazelwood that I couldn’t come to terms with. Let’s see if it made it through.



Only a bit! Mostly I get sweet wood mixed with grass and a hint of licorice (there’s the aniseed). It could be that I’m tasting citrus, but if so it more reminds me of those chocolate flavored orange wedges that show up during the holidays.

This is definitely one of the more quality blends, and I think anyone could stand strong recommending this as a great example of blended malts. I’d put this up against some of the Compass Box line with confidence. (not all of them though).

Thank you, Monkey Shoulder.