monkey shoulder

When a brand touts itself as being “made for mixing” you can almost anticipate with absolute certainty what comes next – recipes. Or to be more precise, a follow-up question along the lines of “What do I mix it with?”. Well, before we begin monkeying around with a few simple recipes you could try at home (and making a bit of a mess in the kitchen), it would only be fair to first learn a few things about this blended malt whisky. A whisky that has managed to defy both demographics and social groups to capture the hearts of bartenders, your average college student trying to blow off some steam after a final paper, and even that one whisky snob we all know.


The Year of The Monkey

While it would have been serendipitous if the year 2005 was indeed the year of the Monkey following the Chinese Zodiac, alas, it was not meant to be. It was, however, the year “Monkey Shoulder '' from William Grant & Sons was launched and introduced as the new cool kid on the block. At a time when Scotch was mainly reserved for a more mature and affluent audience resulting in its “serious drink” image, in comes Monkey Shoulder to turn that perception on its head. Guided by wanting to be the “new face of Scotch whisky for a new generation of whisky drinkers' ' according to Jonny Cornthwaite, William Grant & Sons’ head of whisky, they then proceeded to brand themselves for maximum approachability.

This involved desecrating the “sacred” idea that blended Scotch whisky was somehow inferior to a single malt whisky although the saving grace lies in the fact that Monkey Shoulder is one hundred percent malt as opposed to a combination of malt and grain like most blended whiskies. The three monkeys on the face of the bottle represent the three Speyside distilleries and highly regarded single-malt whiskies they are made from - Balvenie, Kininvie, and Glenfiddich. While other whiskies were eventually introduced into the blend, each batch still comprised the three single malts. “Batch 27”, which is clearly seen on the label, is credited to the nine casks used for each single malt.


A Case of “Monkey Shoulder”

As if it was not enough to go against the grain, pun intended, the brand piqued interest through a kick-ass back story behind the name. Traditional malt whisky distillation processes involved “Malt Men” having to regularly flip wet grain laid out on stone floors over their shoulders with shiels to prevent rootlets from matting together. Unsurprisingly, this repetitive and labor-intensive work caused many a Malt Man to strain themselves and develop shoulder injuries that caused their arms to hang low, reminiscent to that of a monkey. This injury was dubbed a “Monkey Shoulder” which has since become a sort of homage to the process of creating the final product.

Another preconceived notion that got blown out of the water was pricing. It is commonly assumed that any good Scotch Whisky worth its salt (or malt, as the case may be) easily sets you back a few hundred dollars. Yet, here was a smooth, creamy, and very malty bottle of goodness that sells for below a hundred dollars and was designed to be superbly versatile. Drawing some parallels between the brand’s characteristics and that of a Monkey in the Chinese zodiac is not difficult - fun, humorous and a defining trait of intelligence.


Your Everyday Monkey (Shoulder)

Although we have expressed, and with zest I might add, that the branding itself is worth becoming a fan of, we have not even begun to get into the drink. The keyword here is versatility. Enjoying a sip of this beautifully crafted blended malt whisky can be done in any number of ways which brings us to the main point of contention; “What do I mix it with?”.


The Dapper Chimp

Well to be honest, you don’t HAVE to mix it with anything if you don’t want to. On days when you want to keep it straightforward with zero fuss, you can opt to have it neat or over ice. Here, you will be able to enjoy the Monkey Shoulder in its full glory - a strong vanilla, orange, and cinnamon flavor with a sweeter profile but with depth and complexity. A flavor profile intentionally created by Master Blender Brian Kinsman who envisioned its natural habitat to be behind the cocktail bar but is unequivocally exquisite on its own as well.


A Modern Irish Monkey 

Some of you might also already be familiar with our previous article where we have painstakingly broken down the step by step on how to make a modern Irish coffee. In a nutshell, this particular recipe involves pouring yourself a cup of your favorite Black Cold Brew, mixing in a touch or more of Monkey Shoulder (or other alternatives as listed) and garnishing with an orange twist. We even provided a how-to on a simple flame trick to provide some showmanship for good measure. A perfect way to mix business and pleasure when you have a deadline to rush, a need to stay awake and an insistence on having a good time doing it.


Swinging Speculoos Milkshake

Of course, we wouldn’t leave you hanging with recycled recipes, so here comes the big one: A Boozy Milkshake. Your perfect stay-home weekend companion when you have time to kill and an empty kitchen to carry out the deed. And when we say empty, we mean devoid of people, not ingredients. Because for this recipe you will need:


1) Fresh Full-Cream Milk

2) Vanilla Ice Cream

3) Speculoos or Lotus Original Caramelised Biscuits

4) Horlicks Powder

5) Monkey Shoulder


How to Make

  1. Pour two ounces (around 60ml) of fresh full-cream milk into a blender. The purpose of the milk is really just to help the mixing process so add sparingly.
  2. Add 2 jiggers (around 90ml in total) of Monkey Shoulder into the blender. You can adjust accordingly but bear in mind that your quest for ultimate booziness affects the consistency of the milkshake.
  3. Add three large scoops of Vanilla Ice cream into the blender. There are too many variables involved from the type of ice cream down to whether you are using an actual scoop versus a large spoon for us to give specifics. As a gauge, imagine how many circular scoops of ice cream it would take to fill the cup you are serving the milkshake in and add that amount of ice cream. You can then adjust accordingly the next time you try this recipe.
  4. Throw in two teaspoons (about 8g) of Horlicks powder into the mix. On top of increasing the malt, this also acts as a “bonding agent”.
  5. Drop in one Speculoos or Lotus biscuit into the blender and pulse. If your blender does not have a pulse button, turn it on for a couple of seconds and then off and repeat up to 3 to 5 times. Avoid blending the mixture until it is liquefied to maintain a thick consistency as the end result.
  6. Lastly, pour out the mixture into the serving glass and crush one biscuit, using the crumbs to garnish the Milkshake.


This simple, yet endlessly satisfying recipe can be used as is or recreated to your own preferences. Just like the brand itself, the recipe aims to be fun and inventive while still being relatively fuss-free and of course, a great drink overall.

Although you would have to grab the other ingredients on your own, Cellarbration is always ever ready to deliver a bottle of Monkey Shoulder right to your doorstep. A purchase that could truly turn into your “everyday monkey” and armed with this recipe, even more so. If you fancy trying out different types of whiskies or spirits altogether, put in all those orders at once and we might even swing by for free.