Jazzy Monkey Shoulder

When I started Whisky Lady, I had a vague notion of creating a separate space for sharing more than just our monthly tasting notes from a private whisky club in Mumbai…

What better than revisiting a bottle conveniently in the cabinet?

The context

The volume of a jazzy funky beat is high, my partner’s rich baritone accompanies the sexy sax as he rehearses his last-minute substitution in a play ‘Bombay Jazz‘ for the Celebrate Bandra Festival. It is a play he normally produces rather than acts in… hence a bit of panic has set in… all the more reason to get into a more relaxed mode.

The weather in Mumbai is decidedly warm, so I was in the mood for something that I wouldn’t cringe at adding a drop or two of cool water or even – gasp! – a small ice-cube.

The choice

While we have sampled Monkey Shoulder in our monthly tasting sessions, I missed writing tasting notes on this blend of three Speyside single malts: Kininvie, Balvenie and Glenfiddich.

The name is inspired by the folks who developed a strain from turning the malting barley by hand – and for their troubles would acquire a ‘monkey shoulder‘. While the photo doesn’t do justice, there are three little monkeys on the upper right side of the bottle representing the three malts that go into the making of this blend.

It is also one of those whiskies that is relatively accessible, not hard on the pocketbook and consistently good. In this case, I picked up a bottle in Singapore on my last trip expecting to use it for the inevitable parties.

As we had a gathering recently, I already had a bottle open. It came from Batch 27, so I felt zero guilt in taking it down from the shelf to re-sample…

Jazzy play & Monkey Shoulder make a good mix!

Jazzy play & Monkey Shoulder make a good mix!

The tasting notes

So… just what did I find in revisiting William Grant’s Monkey Shoulder?

  • Nose: Citrus, sweet honey warmth, light with a hint of vanilla
  • Taste: Mild mannered, mellow and smooth, a dash of cinnamon and a prick of spice
  • Finish: While not a long-term lingerer, a delightful warmth with clove more than cinnamon

The experiment

However I wanted to experiment a little…  and did something I’d normally crinkle my noise at… I added a single small ice-cube

Aside from the relief from a little blessed cool… what did it do to the whisky?

Yes it did bring out a tinge more spice, yet Monkey Shoulder was smooth enough to not be defeated by a mere bit of melting ice… however it did dampen the nose considerably.

So I thought to experiment further… what would happen if I added back a tinge of citrus tartness with a squeeze of half a lime?

What delight! The freshness of the lime brought a new dimension…

Then what about a drop or two of Angostura bitters?

A dancing jig on the nose… citrus, sweet, with the vanilla resurfacing after being lost with the ice cube.

And now… what if I added a splash of cool soda water?

Houston! I do believe we have a cocktail! Yup… I might just offer this to someone else interested in a refreshing bright beverage.

If I had a sprig of mint, may have even thrown that in too…


On a hot sultry night, whisky cocktail and jazz make a combustible combination!

Care to share your opinion of the Monkey Shoulder? Or have a whisky cocktail to suggest? I’m clearly not completely averse to the idea…

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