A gently peaty new expression has been launched for Monkey Shoulder whisky, exclusively available to the on-trade and intended primarily for mixing.
William Grant & Sons unveiled its new Smokey Monkey to the UK bar trade in London last night after 18 months of development under master blender Brian Kinsman, including consultation with bartenders.
At 40% ABV, it is a blend of single malts that retains the smooth richness of the original Monkey Shoulder but adds a smoky edge. It uses a Highland peated malt rather than an Island variety, providing a sweeter character.
It has a distinctive smokiness on the nose with dry peaty notes on the palate alongside the brand’s trademark sweetness and spice. Its peat level is around 10 to 15 parts per million (ppm), lower than a classic Islay malt which could be around 35ppm or more.
Just as Monkey Shoulder was launched 12 years ago primarily for mixing, Smokey Monkey is intended for cocktails, including twists on classics such as an Old Fashioned, a Boulevardier and a Penicillin.
It also works well as a twist on the brand’s signature Ginger Monkey, mixing the whisky with ginger ale over ice with an orange wedge garnish. Smokey Monkey’s smooth, sweeter character also makes it approachable for drinking neat or with a splash of water.
A signature serve will be the Peat & Neat where bartenders will encourage drinkers who don’t like peated whisky to try the more lightly peated combination of original Monkey Shoulder and Smokey Monkey, usually with a splash of water.
Monkey Shoulder’s global brand ambassador Joe Petch, a former bartender, said: “Smokey Monkey has been created largely because leading bartenders from across the world asked us to.
“We felt it was an opportunity to give something back to those who have supported Monkey Shoulder from the beginning, which is why it’s just for them to start with. We’ve also enjoyed mixing up the world of peated malt – and quite frankly, it needed that.”
Smokey Monkey has been launched exclusively in the bar trade for at least two years, initially in only the UK and France. For now, it will be available in only selected bars but opened up for a wider release in the on-trade next year.
William Grant & Sons has also created an ingenious new bar tool for Smokey Monkey, the Smoke Injector, to tie in with the launch. Available to selected bars, the chunky metallic syringe can be used to release billows of smoke over a drink, with bartenders inevitably set to customise the smoke with their own ingredients.
“Monkey Shoulder has been steadily growing in popularity around the world, and that’s mostly thanks to our strong relationships with top bartenders,” Joe added. “These are the guys who are at the top of their game and are looking to shake things up offering drinkers something genuinely new and unusual.”
Brian added: “Smokey Monkey has the mellow vanilla, spicy and citrus hints of our original liquid, overlaid by a dry smokiness that comes through on the nose and the palate. Monkey Shoulder fans will both recognise its familiar smooth character and enjoy the exciting new cocktail serves it brings with it.”
Smokey Monkey was unveiled to bartenders at an event at Callooh Callay in Shoreditch in London last night. It was used as a substitute for peaty Islay single malt Caol Ila 12 Year Old in the bar’s Runaway Man cocktail, using both original Monkey Shoulder and Smokey Monkey plus plum cordial, ginger, lemon juice and a raspberry porter.
Smokey Old Fashioned
60ml Smokey Monkey
8ml Sugar syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir. Strain over a large cube of ice. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
45ml Smokey Monkey
30ml Sweet vermouth
Add all ingredients to mixing glass. Add ice cubes and stir. Strain into the glass over ice cubes.