Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky Review

Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky Review

Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky is a combination of 3 different Speyside whiskies mixed together in small 27 barrel batches. The bottle I’m reviewing comes from batch 27 and I won’t lie, there is a part of me that finds extreme satisfaction in that symmetry. Made from a combination of Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie this silky smooth and fruity sweet whisky comes with a sidecar of history.

For more information on the whisky named after a work-related repetitive stress injury we turn to the bottle at hand which states: “The skill of the malt man is demonstrated when he turns the malting barley with a shiel (wooden shovel). Years ago some malt men used to develop a temporary strain known as Monkey Shoulder, but working practices have changed and thankfully the condition no longer exists… Inspired by their craft, we’ve created Monkey Shoulder…” Painful sounding condition, but a darn tasty whisky.

Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky Info

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Producer: William Grant & Sons Ltd.
Mashbill: 100% malted barley (blend of Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie)
Age: NAS
ABV: 43%

Batch: 27

Price: $30

Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky Review

EYE
Tamarin gold

NOSE
Big complex orchard and tropical fruit followed by malty sweetness, red licorice a bit of spice and caramel. The fruit is fantastic, but beyond the rich fruit notes things get a bit light.

PALATE
Same complex fruit, malt, licorice and spice from the nose but the flavor brings in some additional notes of cream soda, juicy fruit gum and some grassy undertones. It’s still not a deep “thinkin’ whisky”, but good golly is it tasty.

FINISH
Medium length and fruity with notes of grassy malt and earth.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Excellent balance with what’s there, medium body and a smooth, almost oily, texture.

OVERALL
Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky has a rich fruity character that’s well balanced and comes across the senses pleasantly, but kind of ends there. It’s kind of like that friend who doesn’t say much but is always polite and everyone likes him. This is batch 27 and since they bottle such small batches (27 barrels per batch) there’s likely several different batches on the shelves right now so take that into consideration if you pick up a bottle, but if the other batches are anything like this one they’re a good buy.

EDIT: Per a quote from DrinkHacker the Batch 27 thing is just for decoration. Thanks to Abe for pointing that out.

‘Batch 27 refers to the original Monkey Shoulder batch which was 27 casks vatted together. The original vatting was made from our three distilleries we have on our site in Dufftown… Kininvie, Glenfiddich & The Balvenie (sometimes affectionately known as the KGB).

Because Brian Kinsman can’t possibly batch it in those numbers anymore we line up runs of 27 at a time for vatting. Occasionally using other distilleries in the mix, but always three Speyside distilleries and always in first fill American oak (i.e. first time they’ve been used in Scotland).’”

SCORE: 86/100

Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 85
  • Palate - 86
  • Finish - 85
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 88

Value

$30 bucks for a well balanced blend of Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie? Yes please. Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky is definitely a good value.

Moneky Shoulder Label
Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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23 Responses to Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky Review

  1. Ralfy rolled his eyes at this in one of his YouTube videos, perhaps without ever tasting it. Just the idea of a whisky named after a repetitive stress injury bugged him.

  2. I am interested in your comment about the batch number. I have read elsewhere that the batch number on the label is a bit deceptive, as it is not produced in actually distinct “batches,” and the “27” has been used from day one. Any idea which story line is correct?

    • After I posted this review I had a couple people ask the same thing and I started digging deeper and finding people saying the same thing. I’m going to see if I can get a contact there, but it very well could be bullshit and if I can get an answer I’ll be sure to post it.

  3. From what I understand, every batch is “Batch 27” and references the number of barrels they use for each vatting.

    • Doing a bit more research, I found this quote from DrinkHacker – “Brand Ambassador Freddy May clears up some of the info about Monkey Shoulder’s heritage and production in this email:

      ‘Batch 27 refers to the original Monkey Shoulder batch which was 27 casks vatted together. The original vatting was made from our three distilleries we have on our site in Dufftown… Kininvie, Glenfiddich & The Balvenie (sometimes affectionately known as the KGB).

      Because Brian Kinsman can’t possibly batch it in those numbers anymore we line up runs of 27 at a time for vatting. Occasionally using other distilleries in the mix, but always three Speyside distilleries and always in first fill American oak (i.e. first time they’ve been used in Scotland).'”

  4. Just picked up my first bottle of Monkey Shoulder over the holidays, looking for something new to try at my in-laws for a week without breaking the bank ($32 at the local grocery store). Thoroughly impressed! Tasty and smooth. Everyone who tried it figured it was a $50+ bottle. Already bought a bottle for my house. Thanks for the great review.

  5. I’m a bourbon drinker who’s trying his best to get into scotch. I didn’t want to jump headlong into a high priced bottle and be overwhelmed. I’m trying a gradual progression to more advanced, complex scotches. So far I’ve tried Johnny Walker Red (yuck), Dewar’s White Label and Famous Grouse (not bad), Dewar’s Scratched Cask (very good) and Now the Monkey Shoulder (excellent). What do you suggest for my step? My goal is to eventually be cool enough to sit in front of a fire with Nick Offerman sipping Lagavulin.

  6. I always have a bottle of this in the house for when I want to have a good quality whisky with a cigar…It has a unusually sweet palate, and finish (I was thinking something along the lines of a peach – however you might be right with the cream soda, and juicy fruit gum analogy).

  7. The guy at my local liquor store has been talking me up on Monkey Shoulder for a while and I finally bought a bottle this week. I am normally an Islay guy but this is not bad for the price, that being said for a relatively “cheap” scotch I would still prefer Speyburn 10 as it has a much smoother finish.

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