Monkey Shoulder is made using a blend of three single malt whiskies from Speyside, one of the most renowned whisky-producing regions in Scotland. The result is a well-rounded whiskey with notes of vanilla, honey, and citrus.
This Scotch has a loyal following of enthusiasts who appreciate its unique character, and we’re looking into what makes this scotch so unique.
Monkey Shoulder Scotch History
The history of Monkey Shoulder Scotch is a long and storied one. The brand is owned by William Grant & Sons, a brand that dates all the way back to the early 1800s.
In 2005, the company launched Monkey Shoulder, which combined scotch from three different distilleries to create a new blended malt, one of very few on the market at that time.
The modern Monkey Shoulder consumers know today began when three Scottish malt whisky distilleries were merged into one in order to streamline production.
The resulting blended whisky was then aged in vintage sherry casks, giving it a creamy, smooth flavor with hints of fruit and spice. Today, Monkey Shoulder is still made using the same methods and ingredients, and it continues to be one of the most beloved whiskies on the market.
The name “Monkey Shoulder” comes from the labor-intensive process and often resulted in workers sustaining injuries, leading to the nickname “monkey shoulder.”
Turning barley by hand took its toll on the men who worked at the distillery. After long shifts of constant manual flipping, they were susceptible to the condition that caused one arm to hang down just a little; which inspired the name; Monkey Shoulder. Fortunately, due to technology, this ailment is a thing of the past.
In 2018 Monkey Shoulder Scotch whisky, as the brand was named the best-selling Scotch whisky by Drinks International. Which is an extraordinary achievement for a relatively new brand.
Today, Monkey Shoulder Scotch is still made using traditional methods, ensuring that it maintains its distinct flavor and smooth finish.
Monkey Shoulder Tasting Notes
Monkey Shoulder offers two expressions for consumers. Its flagship blended scotch and Smokey Monkey.
Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky is smooth and fruity, making it a great option to drink as an introduction to scotch. The three main malt whiskies that make up the whisky are Kinclaith, Glen Garioch, and Balvenie.
However, the exact composition of the blend may vary slightly from batch to batch, but the overall flavor profile is relatively consistent. The three main malt whiskies that make up the whisky are Kinclaith, Glen Garioch, and Balvenie.
The tasting notes of their flagship blended whiskey include a nose of marmalade, cocoa, and malt. Plenty of vanilla and a sprinkling of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.
The palate is very malty, with a suggestion of berry fruit, toasted barley, cloves, and butterscotch. The finish is medium length, with spicy oak and a hint of peppermint on the finish.
The blended whiskey is bottled at 86% with a mashbill of 100% malted barley (blend of Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Kininvie).
Smokey Monkey is a peaty variant of the Monkey Shoulder blended malt. This expression retains all the elements for use in cocktails and mixed drinks, with the addition of soft peaty hints running through it.
The peaty notes give Smokey Monkey a unique flavor and make it ideal for enjoying neat or on the rocks.
Smokey Monkey offers unexpected flavors in that it combines peat smoke with sweeter notes of honeydew melon and toasted orange peel.
These elements come together on the palate, with the peat smoke playing off the vanilla. The finish is long and sweet, with toffee and drying smoke notes.
It’s known to be a sweeter whisky and still meant to be mixed in cocktails, with the addition of smokier qualities.
Unlike most scotch, which is typically drunk neat or over ice, Monkey Shoulder is the first 100% malt whisky that was made to mix in cocktails.
One of the most famous whisky cocktails is the Hot Toddy, which combines whisky with honey, lemon, and boiling water. This warm drink is perfect for chilly evenings, and its sweetness makes it a hit with many drinkers.
Another popular option is the Whiskey Sour, which combines whisky with lemon juice and sugar. This refreshing cocktail is often garnished with a maraschino cherry, giving it a beautiful crimson hue.
The Old Fashioned is a classic choice for those who prefer their drinks on the rocks. This simple cocktail is made by combining whisky with bitters and sugar, and it can be garnished with an orange slice or cherry.
Finally, the Manhattan is a sophisticated choice that is perfect for special occasions. This classic cocktail is made by combining whisky with sweet vermouth and bitters, and it is typically garnished with a maraschino cherry.
Monkey Shoulder Price
The price of Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch whisky varies depending on the retailer, but it is usually between $30 and $40 for a 750ml bottle and a litre between $50 and $70.
On the other hand, Smokey Monkey can be found for as low as $25 at some retailers.
The Monkey Shoulder brand proudly states that they are a Speyside blended scotch, but what does that mean?
Speyside whiskies are a type of single malt Scotch whisky that comes from the Speyside region of Scotland. This area is home to more than half of the country’s distilleries, and it is known for its rich and complex whiskies.
The climate in Speyside is relatively mild, which helps to create smooth and approachable whiskies.
The region is also home to many different types of barley, which gives the whiskies a wide range of flavors. In addition, the water in Speyside is soft and peaty, which contributes to the whiskies’ distinct taste.
Speyside whiskies are some of the most popular in the world, and they are prized for their complexity and depth of flavor.
Founded in 1990, Kininvie is a small distillery located in Dufftown, Scotland. Despite its relatively short history, Kininvie has already made a big impact on the Scotch whisky industry with its production of Monkey Shoulder.
In addition to producing single malt whisky for multiple brands, Kininvie also operates its own independent bottling program.
Joel McHale is one of the most recognizable faces in comedy today. He’s best known for his work on the hit TV show Community, but he’s also appeared in a number of movies and TV shows over the years.
Recently, McHale has been tapped to be the new face of Monkey Shoulder. Monkey Shoulder is already a popular choice among scotch drinkers, but with McHale’s endorsement, Monkey Shoulder has come up with some fun campaigns.
One of which is where Joel McHale will crash your awkward first date with the blended scotch.
“In the very traditional and sometimes stuffy world of Scotch whisky, Monkey Shoulder encourages you to loosen things up a bit – break precedent; throw ice in it, mix it, make a piña colada – basically stop being so precious and just enjoy good whisky in the way that makes you happy,” said Michael Giardina, Monkey Shoulder Brand Director in a prepared statement.
“Now we’ve partnered with Joel McHale to bring that same outlook to dating. In a world where people often embellish to impress, we are encouraging people to drop the pretense, be their original selves, relax and have fun. Honestly, you don’t even need to thank us if you get a second date…just bring us to the wedding.” Giardina concludes.
Monkey Shoulder Final Thoughts
Monkey Shoulder may be a relatively new player in the whisky game, but it has quickly become one of the most popular and well-loved brands.
With its interesting backstory and unique flavor profile, it’s no wonder this Speyside single malt is becoming a favorite among whisky lovers all over the world.