Monkey Shoulder Whisky is labelled “Batch 27” as a reference to the original experimental batching of 27 casks. The vatting is a mix of William Grant & Sons’ three distilleries, all located in Dufftown, in Speyside: Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, and Kininvie. (Kininvie was built in 1990 on the grounds of The Balvenie and makes malt that is mostly used for blends.) All three are from “first-fill” ex-bourbon casks. Sometimes malts from other, undisclosed distilleries might be included in the vatting. The ages of the whiskies are unreleased, but you can basically assume they’re young.
For what it’s worth, “Monkey Shoulder” is the nickname for a shoulder injury experienced by maltsters after long hours of manually turning malt on a malting floor.
Nose: Crisp, clear malty grains, almost beery. A touch of lemon. No nose-tickle or heavy scents of oak, just lightly sweet and round. After a rest in the glass, there is a heavy layer of vanilla extract.
Palate: Initially a wave of lemon peel and caramel accompanied by slight tongue burn. This passes quickly, leaving nougat, mineral water (almost like tonic, with a touch of herbal-like quinine) and vanilla frosting.
Finish: Short. Nougat all over, nutty and sweet, but quickly vanishing with a fading hint of dry oaky tannins and a bit of charcoal which leaves the mouth wishing for a little better balance. Aged in ex-bourbon bourbon barrels. This spirit ranges from 6-12 years and has the bulk averaging 8-10 years. A very approachable whisky with notes of malt, vanilla, caramel, cream and tropical fruit like banana.