The Story

The Monkey Shoulder story image 1

The Monkey Shoulder story

Words by Simon Difford

Since the early 1990s the world has enjoyed a cocktail renaissance and a general move to more discerning drinking. Scotch whisky has benefitted from this change, finding its way into ever more cocktails. Yet, Scotch retains something of a staid image. Monkey Shoulder is one of a few whiskies that stand out, almost as an antidote, breaking the mould of what's expected of a Scotch whisky.

William Grant & Sons is a generations-old family-owned whisky maker that has a proud history of leading new developments. The Grant family led the malt whisky revival with Glenfiddich and were the first to market single malts through advertising.

In the early 2000s, the good folk at William Grant recognised the huge growth in cocktails and mixed drinks and realised that Scotch whisky was being left behind while other spirit categories were capitalising on this growth. Seizing the opportunity, they set about creating a whisky designed for cocktails and mixing. They embraced new ways to enjoy Scotch.

Before Monkey Shoulder, malt whisky was sold as single malts, each marketed with the heritage of the distillery where it was made. It was malt and grain blends, blended Scotch whiskies, that stood apart as brands in their own right with their own stories unconnected to a distillery.

Hence, when William Grant blended three of their own single malts (Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Kininvie) to produce a blended malt (vatted malt) whisky it was a bold move. The result, known as "Batch 27" in the blending room, was named Monkey Shoulder and launched in 2003.

In the world of whisky, Monkey Shoulder was a revolutionary.