Monkey Shoulder is a blended Scotch aimed at cocktail enthusiasts and Scotch aficionados alike. It was created by William Grant and Sons in 2005 and was designed specifically for use in cocktails. The goal was to make scotch more approachable for those drinkers who prefer a cocktail to a neat pour of spirit. They named the Scotch after a condition often developed by distillery workers, where one arm would hang lower than the other due to strenuous shoveling of barley. The three brass monkeys in the logo represent the three Scotches used in the blend.
Is Monkey Shoulder Worth the Price?
Monkey Shoulder is usually around 30$ in cost. At that price point it is certainly worth it. While you can get cheaper blended scotch, the fact that this is a blend of strictly single malts means it will be difficult to find a blend of this quality at a cheaper price. It works exceedingly well in cocktails, but can also be sipped neat, making it a versatile bottle for the home bar collection.
The Production of Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky
Monkey Shoulder is a blended Scotch, but unlike many other blends, it is 100% malt. Most blended Scotches will use a bit of cheaper grain whisky mixed with malted whisky to stretch the volume produced, which also impacts quality. Monkey Shoulder uses only malt whisky, and specifically a blend of three single malts: Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Kininvie. All three of these single malts are produced on the same estate on which Monkey Shoulder is blended.
Reviewed: Monkey Shoulder Product Line
- Monkey Shoulder (Batch 27)
The main product produced under the Monkey Shoulder name is a blend of three single malt scotch whiskeys owned by William Grant and Sons. It is bottled at 40% ABV without an age statement. This is the most commonly found bottle and is great for cocktail mixing, but surprisingly, it is also not bad as a neat pour. Expect a slightly floral aroma, with sherry, vanilla, light orchard fruit, and a bit of spice. On the palate, it has a noticeable sweetness with vanilla, malt, citrus, oak, and spice. The finish is medium with malt and spice.
- Smokey Monkey (Batch 9)
After the successful launch of the original Monkey Shoulder, bartenders began asking for a peated version. Monkey Shoulder obliged them with this blend of peated and unpeated whisky. Like the original, it was designed with cocktails in mind and is bottled at 40% ABV. Smokey Monkey is another blend of single malts. Once again, William and Grant lean on Balvenie and Glenfiddich to do a lot of the heavy lifting, but the peated element of Smokey Monkey comes from Aisla Bay.
Alternatives to Monkey Shoulder at Comparable Prices
While Monkey Shoulder is a great product if you’re looking for a blended scotch to mix with, there are other viable alternatives that are competitive in quality, price, or both.
- Compass Box
Compass Box is a really interesting brand that is changing the way many folks think about blended whisky. Their goal is to create blends that exceed the sum of their parts and provide a drinking experience that is on par with that of a single malt. Specifically, the Compass Box Artist blend is a blend of mostly malt whisky with a small portion of high quality grain whisky. The Artist blend works especially well in cocktails and can usually be found at a similar price point as Monkey Shoulder.
- Dewars 12 Blended Scotch
Dewars is a blend of malt and grain whisky, with a large portion coming from Aberfeldy distillery. While it isn’t quite as nice as Monkey Shoulder or Compass Box Artist Blend, it does come at a lower price point and works well as a cocktail scotch. It is widely available and affordable.
Cocktails with Monkey Shoulder
2 oz Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch
3/8oz Ginger Syrup
3/8oz Honey Syrup
3/4oz lemon Juice
Shake, Strain over ice, float ½ oz peated scotch such as Smokey Monkey. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger. Originally from Sam Ross at Milk and Honey in NYC
2 oz Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch
½ oz lime juice
Build in a Collins glass, top with ginger beer. Garnish with a Lime wheel.