Monkey Shoulder

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Whisky, it is fair to say, can make for an expensive hobby. Even more so, if we end up disappointed with the bottle we bring home. Naturally, one can seek opinions through blogs such as this but there is really no substitute for experiencing something first hand. Sampling before making a purchase is invaluable and must be pursued at every opportunity whether through local tasting events or dedicated whisky clubs, a well stocked bar or a respectable retailer, happy to pour a nip or two.

Then there are miniatures. Handy and affordable 5cl bottles which provide a dram or two with which to inform one’s purchase. Though the trend towards bottling in miniature form seems to be dwindling, they remain a useful way to broaden our horizons.

A 70cl bottle of Monkey Shoulder will set you back as little as £25, but for the purposes of this review I was able to buy a miniature for the paltry sum of just £3. Not a lot to risk were I taking a stab in the dark at a new malt.

Monkey Shoulder is produced by William Grant & Sons (whom you may remember from my review of Glenfiddich 15), sometimes called a triple malt because it’s a blend of three single malts: Glenfiddich, Kininvie and Balvenie. The rather bizarre name derives from an injury suffered by distillery workers in the old days… Working the malting floor, turning grain with shovels all day long was back-breaking work and often led to a painful injury which was dubbed ‘monkey shoulder’. While very few distilleries still operate their own malt floor today, the name acts as an affectionate tribute to the hardy maltmen of old.


Monkey Shoulder is bottled at just 40% though in fairness, it is intended and marketed as an easy drinker and even uses its own website to highlight its usefulness as a cocktail ingredient.

Smell: Honey, Chocolate & Fudge, Heather and Coffee

Taste: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Salted Caramel, Cocoa and Coffee.

Value: Cant argue at £25 (or £3 for the miniature) for a bottle of this. It’s only 40% but there’s a good flavour profile going on. Bottled at 46% it would be very interesting however!

Total: 78 / 100.

It’s not the sort of whisky you contemplate for hours but nonetheless it’s decent quality for the price and very enjoyable.

*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers. 

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