REVIEW: MONKEY SHOULDER "SMOKEY MONKEY"
Last year a little birdie told me that Monkey Shoulder would be releasing a peated version of their ever so popular classic Monkey Shoulder. When I heard this news, steam started coming out of my ears and my heart was pumping out of my chest like Roger Rabbit catching a peep of Jessica. Really, just the word "peat" makes me all sorts of excited. Not to say that I have fallen in love with every peated whisky I've ever tasted, but its like saying I've never met a piece of pie I didnt like. Its rare.
Smokey Monkey was released back in August of 2017 to only select bars in France and the UK, to answer the call from bartenders who were looking for that smokey punch to add to cocktails. Bartenders across the world have been using Monkey Shoulder in cocktails of all kinds and when the need for something a little punchy and smokey was put on the table, William Grant and Sons answered. When I was in France last month, I knew I had to hunt some of this down and see if it satisfied the neat drinkers palate too, and for me it does!
The nose on this reminds me of breakfast. Smoked bacon, and sweet custard with ripe fruits. Its got a subtle smokiness to it, enough to suck you into the glass for more, but not too much to send you running away. It has a sweet vanilla undertone the more I nose it. Lovely!
Bottled at 40% ABV (remember its made for bartenders to use in cocktails, not for us cask strength lovers), it comes in with a thin mouthfeel. There is a spice element to it that hits the tip of your tongue and then dissipates. The peat is light. It has some vanilla undertones that add to its sweetness. Just think of a thinly whipped smoked vanilla custard. The peated malt comes from Ailsa Bay, a William Grant and Sons owned Lowland Distillery, built at Girvan, to produce malts for blending. This, however, could change in the future as William Grant uses different Single Malts for Monkey Shoulder. It has some vanilla undertones that add to its sweetness.
The finish is medium, and dry. You get that oaky sting on the tip of your tongue. It doesn't overstay its welcome.
Overall, this is a great whisky. I think that its a perfect introductory whisky into peated malts. Its super approachable, smooth, and has the right amount of sweetness. As a peat head, for me, its a tasty, lightly peated whisky for those days you don't want to sip on a dominating peat bomb, one that satisfies my love for peat, and my overall love for whisky! Don't expect it to knock you off of your feet. Don't expect for it to be this viscous, chewy, peated power bomb. Expect for it to be this lovely retreat to the strong, forward, Islay whiskies that some of us love so much.
These bottles were purchased at The Whisky Shop in Paris, France by the one and only Whisky Fairy. If you're planning on making your way to the UK or France anytime soon, be sure to grab a few for yourself!
For me, Smokey Monkey hits the mark, and when it makes its way to the states, it will become a permanent staple in my collection!
*Update (5/6/18): I’m almost through one whole bottle. It’s such a good, in between dram, when an big peated whisky isn’t what you’re after, but want that little pop of peat. I’ll say, I’m in love. ❤️