Posts tagged ‘Glenfiddich’

Comparison Review: Monkey Shoulder vs. Sheep Dip Blended Malt Scotches

Well, it has been a good long while since we’ve had a comparison review here at Bargain Bourbon, so today’s review is aimed at remedied that minor oversight.  Today, I am reviewing two blended malt Scotch whiskies – Monkey Shoulder and Sheep Dip.  Since I have not yet discussed blended malts on the blog, perhaps a brief word.  Simply, blended malts are Scotches that are derived from single malt whiskies from two or more different distilleries.  Blended malts differ from blended Scotches in that blended malts only contain single malt whiskies in their components, and blended Scotches may contain both single malts and other grain whiskies.

The two particular blends in question today are both blended malts – Monkey Shoulder and Sheep Dip.  Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt from William Grant & Sons, and the three distilleries that contribute to this whisky are all owned by Grant as well.  Single malt Scotch from The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Kininvie all find their way into Monkey Shoulder to make a fine Speyside blended malt.  Monkey Shoulder is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv) and this particular batch is Batch 27.  If you are wondering about the name, Monkey Shoulder is a slang term for the soreness in the shoulder that occurs when a malt man has been turning the germinating barley for a long period of time.

Sheep Dip is a blended malt made from 16 different single malts from all over Scotland, with the famed Richard Paterson as the head blender on the project.  Sheep Dip proudly proclaims that of the different Scotch regions have been included in the whisky.  Sheep Dip is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).  As far as the name on this one, “Sheep Dip” was often how whisky makers would label their products to avoid their stock being confiscated by the authorities back in the days when such things were a more common occurrence.

Now, onto the tasting…

I assume he enjoys a fine dram from time to time...

I assume he enjoys a fine dram from time to time…

On the nose, Monkey Shoulder is floral and sweet, with honey, vanilla, and some rich orchard fruits.  This is a classic, bourbon-aged Speyside nose.  The palate is wonderfully creamy, with orchard fruits, berries, peaches, apples, and rich honey.  The finish is relatively short with oak, vanilla cream, and drying perfume notes.  My grade: B.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  Overall, this is a very good introduction to what an ex-bourbon cask might do to Speyside spirits, and it is priced perfectly.

For Sheep Dip, the arrival is a bit heavier.  The nose is a funky, sherried nose, reminiscent of Edradour.  It is sweet and nutty, with notes of pralines and candied pecans.  The palate is earthier, with those pralines there, along with dates, molasses, brown sugar, and wet moss.  The finish is sweet, dry, and very short.  My grade:  C+.  Price:  $35-40/750ml.  Overall, this is in a nice price point just like the Monkey Shoulder, but the flavors seem disjointed in Sheep Dip, like there are too many chefs in the kitchen.

Something tells me these sheep got into the Sheep Dip...

Something tells me these sheep got into the Sheep Dip…

On the whole, I do like Monkey Shoulder better, but the greater point I want to make with this post is that blended malt Scotches are great alternatives to buying single malts.  Blended malts are often high quality whiskies with great taste profiles.  If you want to introduce someone to Scotch, save the money on a single malt, but give yourself a cleaner palate and a softer alternative to the blended Scotch route.  As always, let me know what you think, and let it ride!

Glenfiddich 12 Year Scotch Review

Glenfiddich 12Perhaps there is no other single malt I am asked about more than Glenfiddich 12 yr.  It is the best selling single malt whisky in the world, and the brand proudly proclaims that Glenfiddich is also the world’s most awarded single malt.  In 2011, Glenfiddich sold over 12 million bottles (1 million cases), the first single malt Scotch brand ever to do so.  Needless to say, many people drink a lot of Glenfiddich; it is the staple single malt of almost every bar I have ever been in.  As such, I know many Scotch drinkers that tend to look down at Glenfiddich as a brand, but popularity does not always equal low quality.  Glenfiddich’s signature malt is their 12 year-old, a quintessential Speyside single malt.  It is aged in both ex-bourbon casks and ex-Sherry casks, although the whisky gives a lot more character of the former.  The 12 year is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv), and comes in an iconic, green, triangular bottle.

The soft brown in the glass makes me suspect that coloring has been added for a consistent color to the finished product.  On the nose, Glenfiddich 12 year-old is rather dry, with a lot of floral character and bitter green apples, but there is enough sweetness from the malt to hold it together.  The palate is also quite dry, with Granny Smith apples, d’anjou pears, a bit of vanilla, and a malty backbone.  The finish is short and sweet, with a lot of the same flavors of the palate making a final appearance before scampering away.

Overall, Glenfiddich 12 is exactly what one might expect from a best-selling Speysider.  It is straightforward, reasonably priced, and elegantly packaged.  Popularity is not always a bad thing, but in this case, Glenfiddich 12 year-old does not have the complexity and depth of other standard malts in its price range.  There are other whiskies in the Glenfiddich portfolio are worth seeking out, but I do not believe the Glenfiddich 12 year is one of them.  My grade: C+.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  The price point makes it a great gift, and a good buy for a single malt, but Old Pulteney 12, The Glenlivet 12, and Highland Park 12 are all finer malts for the money in my opinion.