Monkey Shoulder

Malt Master David Stewart decided one day to create the world’s first ‘triple’ malt, by combining single malts from three of Speyside’s distilleries – Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie. Also to note is that there is not a single drop of grain whisky in Monkey Shoulder.

Monkey Shoulder_NAS_The Smoky DramWhisky: Monkey Shoulder, 43% ABV (Cost around R360)

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Blended Malt (aka Vatted Malt)

Age: NAS

The term ‘monkey shoulder’ is 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’. While the maltmen at Moneky Shoulder are among the few whom still turn the barley manually, working conditions have changed which means this injury has been consigned to the past.

For Money Shoulder the chosen malts are matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks. The three Speyside malts are then blended together in a small marrying tun for anything from three to six months. This is a 100% malt Scotch whisky, distilled, matured and bottled in Dufftown, Scotland.

Colour: Deep gold to burnished with some slow and thick legs.

Nose: Sweet with lots of vanilla, slight floral influences and oak wood notes. A smattering of winter spices (cloves and nutmeg) adds to the depth of the nose. Also get some slight Christmas cake, brandy tart and some fresh fragrant fruits (pears and peaches).

Palate: Smooth and creamy velvety mouth feel. Vanilla is more subdued on the palate with some fruit fudge and wood spice coming to the fore. The sweet winter spiciness (nutmeg and cinnamon) creates a spicy tingle on one’s whole tongue. Drinks very easily.

Finish: Remarkably smooth, medium in length and fairly lingering with a lovely warm and sweet heart.

Overall: An easy to drink dram that is not only very well made, with a gorgeous nose and great palate, it is also very well priced.

My Score: 82

Big Peat

From a blended whisky review to my first blended malt review. For it I chose Big Peat, by Douglas Laing, a blended malt from Islay. It comprises only malt whisky from the island of Islay and it is made up of whisky from Coal Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Port Ellen (which closed in 1983!).

Big Peat_The Smoky DramWhisky: Big Peat, 43% ABV (Cost around R460)

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Blended Malt

Age: NAS

A blended malt is a combination of single malt whiskies from different distilleries. It differs from a standard blended whisky in that the blending components must be made exclusively from malted barley (in other words a single malt) and does not contain any grain. It was previously known as a “vatted malt” whisky.

As one can deduce from the name of the whisky, and not to mention from the distilleries that contribute to the blend, this is a peated whisky. According to the Whisky Science blog peat is a spongy material formed by the partial decomposition of organic matter (vegetation) in wetlands. The smoky flavour of a peat reek is supposedly coming from simple phenols, its alcohol-derivatives and creosols. The smoky flavour that some of us so enjoy in our whisky comes from the drying of the malted barley by a peat fire. Big Peat has a PPM of around 40.

Colour: Pale gold to straw with many long medium legs.

Nose: Starts off with a refreshing seaside saltiness and that wonderful peaty smoke. Lovely woody spices follow with a slight hint of medicinal character and an almost sweetness of pecan nut slice. Gorgeous and complex.

Palate: Burnt wood logs and smokiness is what I get on the first sip. This is quickly followed by a tongue tingling spiciness (cinnamon) across the whole mouth. It has a grassiness to it as well as some nuttiness. Palate is round and full with great complexity.

Finish: Long, warm and lingering with lovely enduring spiciness (especially on the tip of tongue) and more of that magnificent peaty smokiness.

Overall: If you are a fan of smoky or Islay whiskies, this one is for you. Not only is it seriously delicious, with a smooth smokiness that makes it very easy to drink, but it is a very affordable dram (especially considering there is Port Ellen whisky in the blend).

My Score: 87