Tag Archives: blended scotch

Monkey Shoulder Scotch

monkey shoulder scotch

Welcome to the world, Monkey Shoulder, a relatively new scotch brand that you may have seen at your local liquor store as of late (it was introduced in 2005). Master blenders David Stewart and Brian Kinsmen run Monkey Shoulder as a bit of a throwback to the years when blended scotches reigned (as opposed to the many single malts available these days).

Monkey Shoulder is a blend of three Speyside single malts, and while the company won’t say which, the internet consensus is that the malts are Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Kininvie. Speyside is the northernmost distilling region of Scotland, and its scotches fall into two flavor profiles, according to The Whiskey Exchange: light and grassy “lunchtime whiskies” or sweet and rich whiskies.

The flavor of Monkey Shoulder is more in line with the second profile, with tasting notes of vanilla, cinnamon and sweet cream. While some scotches are famed for their smokiness, Monkey Shoulder is absent of smoke and peat in exchange for its woody spice and sweet, rich finish.

The name, Monkey Shoulder, is an unusual one for a scotch, whose names often tend toward the exotic or unpronounceable (anCnoc, anyone?). A “monkey shoulder” is a temporary condition that maltmen would develop after a long day of turning barley by hand; another whiskey history throwback for the Monkey Shoulder brand.

For a bottle of quality whisky with a pretty great trio of pewter monkeys perched on it, Monkey Shoulder can be found at a very respectable $30-ish at your local liquor shop. You’ll find the bottle contains a solid blend of quality single malts with a familiar Speyside flavor. In that price range, too, you get a good sipping scotch and one that’s also feasable in cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Rob Roy.

Fat Trout Scotch

fat trout scotch

I’ve spoken about it before, but it’s been quite a process for me to become a scotch drinker. As such, the majority of scotch that I am sent are low-dollar blended scotches that are typically less than $30 a bottle. Fat Trout is no exception – it’s a $25 blended scotch.

A relatively new U.S. import, The Fat Trout is branded the “Sportman’s Choice” by the bottler and aged a minimum of three years, which is relatively young for scotch. The initial scent of Fat Trout is bananas and tropical fruit, certainly quite sweet. When tasting, this scotch is a touch immature, with a stronger flavor on the tongue that’s not as sweet as it smells.

In you can imagine a spectrum that includes American-palate-friendly scotches on one end (like Dewars or Johnnie Walker), and smoky, peaty scotches on the other (like Bruichladdich or Laphroig), I’d place The Fat Trout at maybe the 25% mark. It has a richer barley bite and a touch of peat, but it’s definitely not as polarizing as some of the advanced single malts that I’ve tried.  

Ultimately, at $25, this is a good baby-step scotch for an American whiskey drinker. The Fat Trout is not too complex, and this whisky has a pretty pleasant sweet nose+barley flavor combination that inserts it into the flavor midrange of scotches.