The Booze Blog Portal - Alcohol, Bars, Malaysia and Beyond.

02 October 2015

Launch: Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky in Malaysia

Monkey Shoulder has officially arrived in Malaysia, YEAY!

Selamat datang Monkey Shoulder!
....but boo, because I wanted to keep it all to myself :(

You see, I've been in a secret relationship with Monkey Shoulder since many years ago when I saw the handsome bottle being quietly displayed at KLIA's duty free shops. It was practically hidden somewhere in the corner but it caught my eye anyhow and I knew I had to own it because:
  1. It was called MONKEY SHOULDER! And I'm born in the year of the monkey! Coincidence? I think not! Fate brought us together for a reason! 
  2. It was a blended malt - which isn't common. 
  3. It was MERELY RM95 for 1L - so super value for money! So even if it tasted nasty, well, it was so cheap I couldn't be angry about it.
However after the 1st bottle, I was hooked. This whisky was surprising really good. For something that is a NAS and a blend of sorts - it was smooth and had all the Speyside characters of being fruity sweet & easy. And for that price? It was more worth it than any of those conventional labels that dominate the duty free shop's shelves.

So for the past couple of years, I felt like I was gleefully keeping this awesome secret to myself... up until this year when it started becoming scarce in local airports. Also, the price had increased to RM105 for 1L (which is still very good value, relatively)......  Seems like the cat's out of the bag. :(

Monkey Shoulder's launch party featured a GIANT pool filled with POPCORN. FTW.

Anyway. Enough of my sob story - let's geek out a little.

So what sort of a blend is it? 
It's a blend of 3 Speyside single malts - Balvanie, Glenfiddich & Kininvie. All owned by William Grant & Sons (same guys who own Glenfiddich) located in Dufftown, Speyside. These 3 whiskies get mixed in a marrying tun and then matured in first fill bourbon barrels for about 3-6 months.

Fun fact: the 3 brass monkeys on the bottle's shoulder represent the 3 single malts. Monkeys on the shoulder of the bottle. Monkey Shoulder... Oh My goodness is that a pun? Get out of here guys!

Monkey Shoulder? What's with the name, man.
It's actually the nickname of an affliction experienced by Maltmen where they get stiff shoulders (from shovelling malt) which causes their arms to hang down like a monkey. The whisky was named after this affliction to pay tribute to these men. Because without maltmen, there is no malted barley. Without barley there is no whisky. Without whisky, men will not be happy. So on and so forth.

How many events have you gone for that actually has a working pinball and a Street Fighter machine? THIS ONE.

So how do you enjoy it?
It's surprisingly really easy to drink neat, seeing how young the whisky is (I read somewhere on MasterOfMalt that the whiskies that go into the bottle are around 3-5 years old). No roughness, no peat, no oakiness. Fruity & silky smooth like anything. I just can't get over it.

But our Malaysian weather can be really humid to do too much of neat whiskies so I sometimes drop in a block of ice to cool it down - which dilutes the drink, which then compromises the mouthfeel because of its youth.. which I dont like. :/

I guess the other way to enjoy it is to have it with an ice-chilled glass? Or to leave the bottle in the fridge? I'll update you on that when I try it next time.

Clearly, this bloody monkey doesn't know anything about making a proper Old Fashioned.

The brand has marketed itself as a very mixable whisky (used in cocktails) - which is evident by all the recipes you can find on their website & FB Page. At the launch, I tried making an Old Fashioned with it. I generally prefer a stiff one with some kick. But because Monkey Shoulder is such a soft easy-drinking whisky to begin with, an Old Fashioned made with it is very mild too. This is perfect for people who don't like the "taste" of whisky in their cocktails to begin with. Perhaps people with more fragile palates than mine. Or the Japanese (who loves their soft whiskies).

I'm going to experiment it more with other cocktails soon, but I don't really feel compelled to because I do quite already enjoy it as it is. If I do happen to mix it into a cocktail I'll let you know!

You keep using vague terms like fruity, soft and easy. For heaven's sake give me actual tasting notes please, you amateur:
Official tasting notes:
Nose: zesty orange meets mellow vanilla, honey & spiced oak
Taste: Mellow vanilla with spicy hints
Finish: super smooth

Or if you want to know what the guys at Master of Malt think of it: CLICK!

Zachary De Git, Monkey Shoulder Brand Ambassador , telling us a story about... I FORGET! WHEN DO WE GET TO PLAY WITH THESE STUFF?

Monkey Shoulder is bottled at 40% ABV and it's retailing about RM280. Available at major hypermarkets and selected cocktail specialty bar such as Omakase + Appreciate, Souled Out, W.I.P, HYDE at 53M, Healy Mac’s Irish Bar & Restaurant, Splash.

So have you tried it? What do you reckon?

For more:

(Some of the images above were provided by WGS)