Review: Monkey Shoulder Batch 27 Triple Malt

Review: Monkey Shoulder Batch 27 Triple Malt

monkey shoulderMonkey Shoulder is a vatted whisky that — despite being a blend of three distillery’s malts — is so rare that shots on the west coast of the U.S. have typically sold for $20 a glass… when entire bottles sell for under $30. I encountered a bottle of Monkey Shoulder on a recent trip to New York — for all of $27 — and snapped it up. (The name is a reference to a malady suffered by floor malters, who get sore shoulders by working their oversized barley shovels for hours on end.

The whisky has no age statement but is a blend of three Speyside whiskys: Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Kininvie, with 27 casks total selected for each bottling by malt master David Stewart.

By and large it’s a classic Speyside whisky. The big malty character offers light, brown-sugar sweetness, backed by notes of heather and, intriguingly, distinct touches of iodine. Underneath that you’ll find cooked fruits, chewy toffee, and notes of incense. It’s more exotic than you’d think. I keep going back to this malt… it’s an easy whisky to like but one that invites tons of discovery. Now that availability is finally expanding, keep an eye out for it.

86 proof.


Update: 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).

Monkey Shoulder Batch 27 Triple Malt




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Eileen Ledgerwood on April 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Mokey Shoulder is a hidden treasure. The Balvenie has a definite presence. All the Spec’s in Texas have it or can get it for around $24USD

  2. Barbara Leung on July 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Was the New York location Astor Spirits and Wines? They carry a lot of the ones that are deemed hard to find, it seems.

  3. Bobby on August 9, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Grand Liquors
    Astoria NY

  4. Kevin McCoy on October 4, 2018 at 7:47 pm


  5. Numya on March 11, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for the review! I happened across this website and found it quite helpful.
    My only issue is that it IS a blended malt. Any mixture of single malt whiskies from different distilleries falls under the “blended” category of malt as is on their bottle.
    “Vatted malt” is only used for whisky which is from the same distillery but from a mixture of multiple casks from that distiller.

    • Christopher Null on March 11, 2019 at 5:21 pm

      Sorry, that is not the case. “Vatted malt” used to be the term for “blended malt,” but Scotland changed the term several years ago to “blended malt” and “vatted malt” is no longer in use. Either way, both refer to a blend of single malts from different distilleries. It is confusing to the consumer, IMO, because it is difficult to distinguish between “blended malt” and “blended Scotch,” the latter which includes grain whiskies, while blended malts do not. What you’re referring to — a blend of whisky casks from one distillery — is actually a “single malt” (the “single” refers to the distillery, not the number of casks).

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