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Blended Whiskey

Whisky Review: Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by William Grant & Sons. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

William Grant & Sons is a fifth-generation Scottish family producer headquartered in Dufftown, Scotland. They are most notable for creating Glenfiddich, one of the most famous single-malt Scotch whiskies in the world. But that’s far from their only brand.

In the early 2000s, William Grant & Sons saw an opportunity to bring the Scotch experience to a wider audience by creating a whisky that would be ideal for use in hand-crafted cocktails. The resulting Batch 27, which was named Monkey Shoulder in tribute to William Grant’s whisky making heritage, was designed specifically for mixing. Initially launched in 2003, Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky has since become one of the highest ranked whiskies from the Speyside region of Scotland. 

Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky gets its formal moniker from the traditional malt whisky making process wherein malt shovelers, better known as “malt men,” turned the malted barley by hand using large, heavy malt shovels. Many of these malt men of the past sustained arm strain injuries in this labor-intensive process. The use of the heavy shovels caused their arms to hang lower than normal, resembling what they endearingly dubbed as “monkey shoulders”. This work-related affliction no longer exists, but the name remains as a tribute to their whisky heritage. 

Bottled at 86 proof (43% ABV), Monkey Shoulder is a 100% malt whisky made from a blend of specially selected Scotch malt whiskies from William Grant & Son’s own line of whiskies including Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Kininvie. These whiskies are matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels and are vatted together for six months before bottling. 

You can find several drink recipes exclusively on the Monkey Shoulder website which includes their own rendition of classic cocktail favorites such as the Rob Roy and the Monkey Old Fashioned. There’s also newer cocktail creations such as the Show Me the Monkey, the Boulevardier #3, and the Monkey Jam Sour.

Awards for Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky include Gold in the 2022 International Wine & Spirit Competition, Bronze in the 2022 New Zealand Spirits Awards, and Gold in the 2021 International Spirits Challenge. 

Monkey Shoulder review

Monkey Shoulder (image via Jennifer Williams/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

Vital Stats: Blended malt Scotch whisky, 86 proof (43% ABV), 750ml MSRP $33, product of Scotland.  

Appearance: Chestnut/oloroso sherry. 

Nose: This whisky has a slightly dry, yet pleasant nose burn with notes of citrus, crisp red apple, spices, and subtle aromas of fresh spearmint. 

Palate: The palate offers sweet, creamy fruit notes, cinnamon, vanilla, a hint of green pepper, and a slight hint of salted pretzel. 

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