The Monkey Shoulder Scotch Guide

Monkey Shoulder is an incredibly popular brand of scotch whiskey. Monkey Shoulder was launched in 2005 and has been incredibly successful in introducing catch to younger generations. Come learn why Monkey Shoulder deserves a spot on your bar cart.

What is Monkey Shoulder?

Monkey Shoulder is a blended Scotch whiskey that is produced in Strathspey, Scotland. It is made from a blend of three single malt whiskeys from famous Speyside distilleries. Single malt Scotches are distilled by one single distillery and use only malted barley as their base grain. Monkey Shoulder is beloved because it is incredibly smooth, creamy, supple, and malty.

Unlike many brands of whiskey, Monkey Shoulder is designed to be mixed. While it is lovely served neat or on the rocks. Monkey Shoulder really shines when made into a cocktail, like an Old Fashioned, or their recommended Ginger Monkey, made with ginger ale and an orange slice. 

Monkey Shoulder’s unique blend of whiskies is what makes it so unique. Many Scotch snobs turn their noses up at blended whiskey. However, unlike other brands made from grain and malt whiskey combinations, Monkey Shoulder is made from 100% malt.

The Monkey Shoulder name

You may be wondering: where does the name “Monkey Shoulder” come from? Well, it’s a reference to an injury that used to affect distillery workers. In the traditional whiskey-making process, malted barley was hand-turned by malt men using large malt shovels. Over time, malt men would develop a strain injury that caused their arms to hang down like monkeys. This injury was nicknamed Monkey Shoulder, and thus, the Scotch’s name was born. Thankfully, modern advancements have eliminated the injury.

Monkey Shoulder is made by William Grant & Sons, a family-owned Scottish company that produces various famous liquors. Other products made by the parent company of William Grant include Hendrick’s Gin, Glenfiddich Scotch, and Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey.

Monkey Shoulder makes a great addition to any home bar, as it’s a bartender’s favorite. It’s versatile, delicious, and very budget-friendly, especially when you consider how high-quality it is. Monkey Shoulder makes the base for so many incredible cocktails and is also great sipped neat.

What does Monkey Shoulder taste like?

Monkey Shoulder is incredibly smooth, creamy, and supple. It really excels when mixed into cocktails, and the subtle notes are complemented by mixers. However, it’s terrific sipped neat or on the rocks as well.

On the nose, Monkey Shoulder is elegant and stylish, with Marmalade, cocoa, and malt notes. The Monkey Shoulder casks are former bourbon casks, which add smooth vanilla aromas to the beverage. There are also plenty of notes of winter spice, such as nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and a hint of aniseed.

On the palate, Monkey Shoulder is very malty and creamy, with a suggestion of berry fruit. You’ll also notice lovely notes of juicy toasted barley, cloves, butterscotch, manuka honey, hot buttered toast, and dried apricot. The single malt Scotches in Monkey Shoulder are specially selected for flavor and consistency. The richness and vibrancy combine with fruity aromas and mellow vanilla. The finish is medium length, with spicy oak and hints of peppermint on the tail. 

Fun facts about Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder is a very interesting company with a rich history behind it. Here are some fun facts about your new favorite Scotch.

  • Monkey Shoulder’s mission is to introduce high-quality Scotch to a new generation of whisky drinkers. Because of this, the company does a lot of fun marketing to get their mission out there. One such example is when Monkey Shoulder went on tour in 2018. The brand enlisted a truck with a giant shaker, called the Monkey Mixer, to drive around all 50 United States. Their goal was to redefine Scotch’s role in the cocktail industry and to show people that drinking Scotch can be incredibly fun.
  • As another way to introduce Scotch to younger generations, Monkey Shoulder enlisted the help of a DJ to create Monkey Shoulder-themed playlists made specifically for cocktail parties. These playlists are available through the Monkey Shoulder website.
  • Originally, Monkey Shoulder was made from a blend of three well-respected single malt whiskies: Balvenie, Kininvie, and Glenfiddich. As demand for Monkey Shoulder grew, the brand introduced other, less expensive whiskies into the blend. 
  • Monkey Shoulder uses nine casks of each of their three single malt Scotches for 27 casks of Scotch in total. Thus, their blend is called “Batch 27.”


Monkey Shoulder cocktail recipes

Monkey Shoulder is designed to be mixed and absolutely delicious as the base of various whisky cocktails. We’ve compiled some of our favorite recipes for you to try out below.

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a cocktail with a long, interesting history. The first Old Fashioned recipe was written down by Jerry Thomas in his 1862 book The Bar-Tenders Guide, the world’s first cocktail book. Most Old Fashioned recipes call for either Bourbon or Rye whiskey, but Monkey Shoulder is absolutely incredible as the base of this classic cocktail. 

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 3 oz. Monkey Shoulder 
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 slice orange
  • 1 maraschino cherry

To make:

  1. Muddle your bitters and water into your sugar cube, using the back of a spoon.
  2. Fill your glass nearly to the top with ice.
  3. Pour over your Monkey Shoulder, then garnish with your orange slice and maraschino cherry. 

Monkey Splash

This is the Monkey Shoulder version of a Scotch and Soda. It’s very simple but really allows the flavors of Monkey Shoulder to shine without being overshadowed by sugary mixers. Plus, it’s much easier to drink than straight Scotch, especially for newer whisky drinkers.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz. Monkey Shoulder
  • 3 oz. soda water or seltzer
  • Orange slice to garnish

To make, simply pour your Monkey Shoulder into a glass of your choice, then fill the glass with ice. Pour over your soda water, garnish with your orange, and enjoy.

Monkey Colada

If you’re a big fan of fruity, tropical drinks, the Monkey Colada is for you. It’s sweet and delicious and will transport you to a sunny beach with one sip, no matter where you’re drinking it. Scotch isn’t typically the first liquor most people associate with tropical cocktails, but Monkey Shoulder’s fruity aromas and smooth flavors work wonderfully here.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. Monkey Shoulder
  • 1 oz. coconut rum, such as Malibu
  • 3 oz. coconut water
  • ½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 rings of fresh pineapple
  • Dash of simple syrup
  • Ice

Add all your ingredients, except for your simple syrup, to a blender to make this cocktail. Blend until smooth. Add simple syrup to taste until the cocktail is sweetened to your liking. Pour into a tall glass, garnish with more pineapple, and enjoy.

Espresso Martini

This is a twist on the classic espresso martini, usually made with vodka and coffee liqueur. Monkey Shoulder provides a lovely smoothness here and complements the delicious flavors of the espresso perfectly. This is an incredible brunch drink, but it can be enjoyed at any time of day.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. Monkey Shoulder
  • 1.5 oz. good quality, strong espresso
  • 1 oz. coffee liqueur
  • Dash of simple syrup

To make, add your Monkey Shoulder, your espresso, and your coffee liqueur to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake very hard until foamy. Taste, then sweeten with simple syrup to your liking. Shake again, then strain into a martini glass, serve, and enjoy. 

Whisky Jam Sour

This incredible twist on a whisky sour uses jam as a sweetener. This perfectly compliments the fruitier aromas and flavors in Monkey Shoulder and makes an incredibly sweet and sour cocktail that is smooth and delicious.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 2.5 oz. Monkey Shoulder
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 2 tsp. jam of your choice
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Soda water (optional)

Add all your ingredients, except your soda water, to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until well-chilled, until the jam is emulsified into the rest of the cocktail. Strain into a cup filled with ice, and top with soda water if you like.

The takeaway

Monkey Shoulder is an incredibly popular brand of Scotch whisky with a cult following. Monkey Shoulder is designed to be mixed into cocktails and is incredibly versatile, making it a bartender favorite and a great addition to any bar cart. Monkey Shoulder is on a mission to introduce whisky to the younger generation of drinkers and based on their popularity, it’s working.

For all your Scotch delivery needs, you can count on Saucey. We offer speedy delivery and no order minimums on an incredible variety of wines, beers, and spirits. Order today and see why so many people rely on us for all their beverage needs. 

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