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On the Rocks – 3 Blended Malts for your Bar – Anand Chintamani

With the launch of Monkey Shoulder in India by William Grant & Sons, the topic of Blended malts is back on the table. Vatted Malts, or Blended Malts as they are officially now known, are made only from Single Malts. So, no grain whisky, only malt whisky, and they needn’t be from a single distillery makes it a Vatted malt.

The Monkey Shoulder derives its name from the curious way the arms and shoulders of the malters from yonder years use to droop – akin to shoulder of a monkey and thus the name.

Name and bottling apart, and the bottle is a collectors item with its metal embellished minimalistic finish, Monkey Shoulder is a fine blend of 3 Speyside malts. William Grant & Sons that owns both the legendary Glenfiddich & the superior Balvenie brands doesn’t shed much light on the source of these whiskies but lets the spirit do the talking.

The Monkey Shoulder with it’s distinctive yet characteristic Speyside nose and taste is a must in one’s bar.

Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder

But since the purists want more, may I suggest you seat the Monkey Shoulder with the Nikka Pure Malt. From the house of Nikka come the Red, White & Black Pure Malts with spirits from the 2 distilleries they own in Japan the Yoichi & the Miyagikyo. Nikka whiskies are made Scotch style – the founder Masataka Taketsuru came to Scotland to pursue education and found his calling in whisky world instead and thus imported his knowledge & experience to found Nikka .

Nikka Black is a highly rated whisky and a must have for its fine nose of asparagus and rich fruit in a decanter again worth saving for long.

Also look out for a limited edition released by Compass Box from Scotland, called the Last Vatted Malt. A mix of fine malts from Islay and Speyside only 1323 were released. The name is a bow to the phasing out of the term Vatted Malt by the Scotch Whisky Association and it’s replacement by Blended Malt.



So, Go Pure, for sure!

Anand Chintamani

About Anand Chintamani

Anand is a trained Malter, and has conducted and attended international forums on whisky appreciation and tasting. A keen golfer and malt whisky collector, he has visited, trained and been a part of the master distiller training sessions at over 10 distilleries across Scotland, Ireland and US, such as; Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Kininvie, Strathisla, Oban, Macallan, Cardhu, Bowmore, Lagavulin, Glen elgin, John Dewar & Sons.


  1. William Grants made hue n cry when Diageo launched Cardhu pure malt in Spain. They went to the scotch whiskey association protesting that PURE MALT is diluting the concept of Single Malt and Diageo is cheating consumers by repositioning Cardhu as Pure or Blended Malt.
    What William Grant has done now with Monkey Shoulder is nothing but what Diageo pioneered or try to, with Cardhu Blended/Pure Malt.
    William Grant, if they are professional, should tender a public apology to Diageo and also to Scotch whiskey association immediately.

  2. chanty@tulleeho.com'

    Dear Mr. Rajah

    Your observation, although of historic importance, is slightly incorrect.
    While Diageo introduced Cardhu as a Pure Malt, it did so in the same label and form ( bottle / SKU’s ) as well as under the same Brand Name.
    The argument, at that stage, led by WGSIL, and settled by SWA was that Diageo’s Cardhu move would definitely mislead the consumer & also unsettle the industry which was trying to position Malt Whisky as a finer choice .

    Monkey Shoulder on the contrary, was not an existing brand, and was always branded & packaged as a Blended Malt Whisky. Monkey Shoulder has been around since 2005, without facing flack or the feeble complaints like you’ve tried to raise for your erstwhile employer.

    The following article from the Guardian will definitely rest the case .

    Happy Malting,

    Anand Chintamani

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