Words by Simon Difford
Folk like me lucky enough to visit Scotland's whisky distilleries and sample the clear spirit that flows from the stills have long wondered why this has not been made widely available. So did the clever marketers behind Monkey Shoulder. Enter Fresh Monkey...
A "Fresh" name
"New Make Spirit" is the official name for what most might call "unaged whisky" but there is no such thing as an 'unaged whisky'. To be termed a 'whisky' in Scotland the clear new make spirit must be aged in oak casks for at least three years, imparting the recognisable amber hue and profoundly changing its character. Without this maturation period, it is simply not whisky so there is no such thing as "unaged whisky."
Anyway, "unaged" is a negative term, especially in a world where ever older age statements on everything from cheese to single malts command equally greater price tags. Would you rather have an unaged apple or a fresh apple?
Fresh from the still. A fresh approach. Fresh Monkey! Better than even a fresh apple!
Better than the sum of its parts
Many, like me, who've sipped on a new make spirit distilled from fermented barley using pot stills in a Scottish malt whisky distillery have pondered how its fruity character will eventually contribute to the single malt whisky it will become. The maturation process mellows the spirit's peppery heat while the cask imparts its own flavours to the spirit, but it also masks some of the appealing fruitiness and distillery character that shines in some new make malts.
Similarly, when sampling Scottish grain whisky distilled from wheat or maize (corn) using a column still, I've been surprised at the vanilla flavour in the spirit and how soft it is straight from the still. It is grain whisky's ability to mellow malt whisky that has brought us blended whisky. The fact that blends far outsell single malts is a testament to the appeal of blending with grain whisky.
Blending is at the heart of Monkey Shoulder and is essential to creating the roundness of Fresh Monkey. While Monkey Shoulder Original is a blend of three single malts, all contributing their own character, Fresh Monkey is a unique blend of three new make spirits – one single malt spirit and two grain spirits.
Monkey Shoulder Fresh Monkey
Fresh Monkey is a category-changing blend of three Scotch new make spirits: one single malt and two grain whiskies.
Monkey Shoulder is a vatted malt (blended malt), made by blending three of William Grant & Sons' Speyside malts - Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie. The
Monkey Shoulder Smokey Monkey
A vatted malt whisky from William Grant & Sons, with headline smoke due to the use of whisky made with Highland peat-smoked malted barley.