Known as one of today’s most accessible Scotch, Monkey Shoulder is blended from a trio of premium Speyside single malts – Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Kininvie.
Tasting Notes before adding the whiskey element (The Whiskey Jug) :
Big complex orchard and tropical fruit followed by malty sweetness, red licorice a bit of spice and caramel. The fruit is fantastic, but beyond the rich fruit notes things get a bit light.
Same fruit, malt, licorice and spice from the nose but the flavor brings in some additional notes of cream soda, juicy fruit gum and some grassy undertones. It’s still not a deep “thinkin’ whisky”.
Medium length and fruity with notes of grassy malt and earth.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Medium body and a smooth, almost oily, texture.
Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky has a rich fruity character that’s well balanced and comes across the senses pleasantly, but kind of ends there. It’s kind of like that friend who doesn’t say much but is always polite and everyone likes him.
And here’s exactly why I chose Monkey Shoulder to conduct this little experiment (Wow, I almost feel like a real scientist when saying this — too bad I did litterature studies, I would have totally been a killer chemist! – Kidding, I gave up mathematics as soon as we switched from regular calculators to scientific ones, totally freaked me out.). To put it in a nutshell, I was hoping the whiskey element would add in complexity to a rather straight-forward nectar and maybe make it more enjoyable for my palate – who didn’t even allow it to enter the “party tipple” zone.
Here’s what you can read on the official website :
“Whiskey Elements produce smoother whiskey by enhancing the traditional barrel-aged flavor. Your Element draws existing flavor characteristics and rich caramel color from natural sugars within the oak.
Combined with our proprietary curing method and unique design, Time & Oak has managed to accelerate the maturation process, and reduce the impurities.
Whiskey Elements are made from 100% all-natural proprietary sourced oak and will enhance your whiskey in as little as 24 hours.”
Let’s start our experiment !
After putting a whiskey element “Signature flavor” in a 70cl bottle of classic Monkey Shoulder, I noticed a slight difference.
Nose : surprisingly fresher, less harsh/agressive on the tongue. The medicinal notes seem to have faded a little bit in something definitely smoother : notes of honey, candied fruits, oak. The nose reminded me of a nice easy-drinking Irish Whiskey.
Palate : Obviously smoother and showing some strong oak notes. However, the expression doesn’t offer a large array of aromas, a lack in depth of flavours leaving me a bit disappointed as I was expecting much more after this promising nose.
Finish : smoother than the original expression for sure, much more (too much?) oaky as well.
Overall, I must admit there’s been a little improvement in terms of “drinkability”.
Nose : The oaky side of the malt is now way stronger, but still pleasant. Same aromas as the previous expression (24h) : vanilla, honey, marzipan, mapple syrup… A more subtle nose though, even smoother that its older brother.
Palate : Wow! Now I really feel the difference. This expression really shows a large spectrum of aromas. A rich, smooth, silky palate with yummy chocolate notes. Also more oak hints than the previous one.
Finish : Warm and lingering with strong woody notes.
Overall, a well-balanced dram that succeeded to rekindle my flame
Nose : OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK OMG THAT’S TOO MUCH OAK I FEEL LIKE I’M DRINKING A CANADIAN LUMBERJACK. Surprisingly less interesting than the 48h expression, the whisky lost much of its flavours (apart from the oak…).
Palate : Right, I can’t deny it’s even smoother, but seriously, why is there a forest in my glass ?
Finish : bitter, harsh.
Overall, getting rid of this whisky may be a great idea.
To finish with this – interesting & educational – experiment, I insist on the fact the Time&Oak Whiskey Elements (surprisingly – must admit I was more than skeptical) really fullfil their commitments – making an entry-level whisky smoother and easier to drink. However, it’s noticeable that the whisky hasn’t been aged naturally as it suffers from a slight lack of wealth and depth of flavours you would have expected from a longer-matured whisky.