Monkey Shoulder Review

Monkey Shoulder Review

Meet Luke

Luke is a Level I Certified Whiskey Specialist with a passion for exploring and unearthing the best whiskeys around. Luke has a preference for Rye whiskeys but has tasted over 250 different whiskeys to date varying from bourbons to scotches. He continues to expand upon his whiskey knowledge by tasting dozens of bottles monthly and reviewing them here on Barrel and Brew as he pursues his Masters of Whiskey certification.

Single malt scotch has been the crave of scotch whisky for some time now, and it may always be that way. After that, you have Johnnie Walker leading the way in scotch sales across the world as a blended scotch. Blended malt scotches, however, aren’t quite as popular as single malt or blended scotch. However, Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt scotch whisky that is garnering some attention from fans of scotch across the world.

In this Monkey Shoulder Review, we are going to cover exactly what Monkey Shoulder is, how it tastes, what it costs, and if it’s worth buying. If you’re interested in knowing more about Monkey Shoulder and scotch whisky, then keep reading.

Monkey Shoulder Review

Monkey Shoulder History

Monkey Shoulder was created in 2003 by William Grant & Sons as a scotch whisky made to be mixed. If you’re not familiar with William Grant & Sons, you’re likely familiar with their liquor. They own and produce Balvenie, Tullamore Dew, Grant’s, Glenfiddich, Kininvie, Sailor Jerry, Drambuie, Hendricks Gin, and Monkey Shoulder. While the history of William Grant & Sons dates back to the 1880’s we are going to stick to Monkey Shoulder.

Monkey Shoulder was originally going to be named Batch 27, but they didn’t like the ring to it. Instead, they decided to name their whisky Monkey Shoulder which is the name of a shoulder injury that traditional distillers would get from turning the malted barley with a shovel.

What Is Blended Malt Scotch?

We keep referring to Monkey Shoulder as blended malt scotch, but to understand what this means, you have to know what it means to be a blend and what it means to be a single malt scotch. First, a single malt scotch is a scotch whisky made up of entirely 100% malted barley from a single distillery. A blended malt scotch is 2 or more single malt scotch whiskies blended together.

Fortunately for William Grant & Sons, they happened to own three various distilleries that produced single malt scotch – Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Kininvie. They blended the three together to create Monkey Shoulder. All three distilleries are located in the Speyside region of Scotland.

Monkey Shoulder Taste

Now that we’ve covered some of the history and basics, we can get into the meat and potatoes of this article – the Monkey Shoulder Review. The best place to start is taste, so below we’ll list the flavor profile.

Monkey Shoulder Flavor Profile

Nose: Malty and sweet. Hints of lemon and pear.

Taste: Vanilla and citrus, light hints of spice.

Finish: Very smooth. nutty, light oak, light citrus fruit. A touch of water or ice makes it very easy and nice.

Monkey Shoulder Taste Summary

All in all, Monkey Shoulder is a very good blended malt scotch. Actually, its just a very good scotch outright. It has enough depth and character for those that like good scotch while maintaining an easy and smooth finish that is perfect for entry level drinkers.

I was curious to see how much I would like Monkey Shoulder after reading about it on their website and reading reviews. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, yet their website says it is made more mixing. While it mixes very well, it’s clearly good enough to have neat or on the rocks. Based on taste alone, I recommend picking up a bottle.

Monkey Shoulder Price

Taste isn’t the only thing that one considers when buying a bottle of liquor, especially so when it comes to scotch since many of the options can get up there in price. Let’s look at what a bottle of Monkey Shoulder will cost. Prices may vary depending on location and individual store.

  • Monkey Shoulder 750ml: $25-30 (It was $24 at my local Total Wine in Colorado!!)
  • Monkey Shoulder 1.75L: $60-70

Monkey Shoulder Price Summary

At less than $25 at my local liquor store, this is a steal and my, likely, go-to scotch from now on. Even at $30 this is very competitively priced. I was a little disappointed at the price of a 1.75L because I would definitely buy a full handle to have around as a go-to, but at $65 it’s cheaper to just buy multiple 750ml bottles.

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Monkey Shoulder Value

In this section, we compare price and taste to answer the question, is this worth buying? AS you can probably guess based on my taste and price summaries, this is definitely worth buying. Are there better tasting scotch whiskies out there? Certainly. Are there better scotch whiskies out there for $25? I haven’t found one yet.

I don’t like buying a 750ml bottle of scotch for $40+ and going through it in a week or two and then having to shovel out another $40+. If you like scotch, and expensive scotch especially, this is a great option that you can drink neat or on the rocks that won’t scorch your wallet. For someone entering scotch, it’s best not to start trying the expensive options and seeing what you like. You’ll spend a lot of money to find a couple you like. At $25 it’s a great entry level option.

Monkey Shoulder Cocktails

We’ve talked a lot about Monkey Shoulder by itself, but it was created as a mixing scotch, so we would be remiss to not talk about mixed drinks. In case you don’t like Monkey Shoulder on the rocks, below is a list of a couple of cocktails for you to try Monkey Shoulder in.

Monkey Shoulder Cocktails

1. Monkey Old Fashioned

Add some simple syrup and a dash of bitters to Monkey Shoulder. Garnish with an orange twist. The dash of bitters really balances out the citrus sweetness of Monkey Shoulder and makes for a great old fashioned.

2. Ginger Monkey

Ginger ale, bitters, and Monkey Shoulder. These are all ingredients that are easy to come by and a very easy drink to make. Like the old fashioned, the citrus and ginger sweetness combine well with bitters. You can also switch out the ginger ale with club soda.

3. Monkey Colada

For a fruitier drink, mix Monkey Shoulder with coconut juice (or coconut liqueur), pineapple juice, and a dash of bitters. This makes for a perfect summer cocktail.

Monkey Shoulder Review Summary

All in all, here at Barrel and Brew, we are big fans of Monkey Shoulder, but too much comes down to personal preference. With that in mind, we recommend you buy a bottle of Monkey Shoulder to figure out if you like it for yourself. At worst you shell out $25 for a blended malt scotch you can mix. At best, you’ve found your new go-to scotch for a very affordable price.

When you take into account its depth and character, price point, and ease of drinking, it’s the perfect scotch for entry level drinkers and scotch aficionados alike. Ultimately, though, you should try a bottle yourself!

If you enjoyed our Monkey Shoulder Review, check out our review on Knob Creek 12 year Cask Strength HERE.

Monkey Shoulder FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about Monkey Shoulder, many of which are answered in the article above.

Is Monkey Shoulder Good?

Yes. The reviews online are overwhelmingly positive, and after trying it ourselves, we find it to be a quality scotch.

Who Owns Monkey Shoulder?

Monkey Shoulder is owned by William Grant & Sons, one of the top producers of scotch in the world. William Grant & Sons also produces well known brands such as Tullamore Dew, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Hendrick Gin among others.

What Kind of Scotch is Monkey Shoulder?

Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt whisky. They blend three different single malt whiskies – Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Kininvie – to create Monkey Shoulder.

How Should I Drink Monkey Shoulder?

Monkey Shoulder was created to be mixed. However, it is good enough to be drunken neat or on the rocks. We recommend trying it on the rocks, and if you don’t love it, mix it in an old fashioned, whisky ginger, or as another whisky cocktail.

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One Comment

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with this review. Monkey Shoulder is a great value. It is my absolute favorite blended scotch. Actually it’s the only one I really like. I find it for $32-35 often and when the lowest priced single malt is $50 and up, it’s an easy choice.

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