Just when you get used to Scotch having unpronounceable names that no one can even spell, along comes Monkey Shoulder Scotch. This is not some Johnny come lately scotch either; William Grant and Sons have been distilling and bottling scotch since 1887. Why the name Monkey Shoulder you might rightfully ask? Turns out that in the old days the maltmen turned the barley by hand during long shifts. This had a tendency to cause their arm to hang down a bit like a monkey’s, so they nicknamed it “monkey shoulder.”

And no there are no chimp parts in this scotch; rather, it’s a blend of three Speyside malts (Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie. There’s those unpronounceable and unspellable names I was referring to) that are blended together and further aged for 3-6 months in ex-bourbon casks. The bottle has three cute little monkeys near the top and the label and typeface have that weather worn aged look. The scotch is a golden honey in color and can be easily seen through the clear glass bottle.

Monkey Shoulder Bottle

The nose is sweet and smooth with the barest hint of spice and features vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The palate really brings out the malt and barley, with touches of oak, cloves and butterscotch. The finish is medium in length, and this time highlights the cloves and oak and is just spicy enough to make it quite interesting.

Straight up, this scotch is smooth enough and tasty enough to stand on its own. On the rocks, this blend mellows out a bit and could easily be sipped all evening. Those scotch snobs who only drink single malts should really go out of their way to try this scotch. They won’t be disappointed and neither was I.

Monkey Shoulder scotch can be found from around $32.99 to $38.99 per 750 ML bottle and is 43% ABV.

By George Brozowski