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Johnnie Walker Black Label vs Monkey Shoulder: Discover the better!

Discover the differences between Johnnie Walker Black Label vs Monkey Shoulder in this in-depth comparison and decide which whisky is better for You!

Johnnie Walker Black Label

johnnie-walker-black-label-marcas-de-whisky
  • Nose: Vanilla, orange zest, nectarine
  • Palate: Smoke, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla
  • Finish: Long, fruity, peppery, smoke
  • Alcohol content: 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • How to drink: Rocks
  • Similar to: JW Red Label

Taste:

On the nose, there is vanilla off the gate, followed by orange zest, nectarine and a whiff of alcohol.

Body feels somewhat thin lacking in texture. The Black Label has a mildly sweet taste, with a flavor rich in peat. There are also hints of caramel and vanilla coming coming late to the party.

The finish has some peat, black pepper, salt, caramel and a bit of warmth but is not harsh.

Is it good?

Overall, the Black Label is a reliable whisky, striking a good balance of smoke and sweetness, with peat smoke and charred oak barrel smoke.

Quite smooth but with a warm finish that does not overwhelm. Nevertheless, on a lot of ice as it is commonly served it totally hits the spot.

The JW Black Label serves as an introductory bottle to peated Scotch, those with a hint coming from the peats used to dry the malted barley.

If you are curious about Scotch peaty whisky this is a good starting point due to its affordable price before trying the peaty monster from Islay.

Overall, Black Label is one of the best age statement blends in the market in its current price range and a good choice for an “everyday Scotch”.

Black Label facts:

  • The Black Label is a blend of 40 whiskies made from grain and malts aged for at least 12 years from all over Scotland.
  • The blend includes peaty whiskies from Islay, sweet and salty whiskies from Speyside along some malts coming from the Scottish Highlands.
  • Now it belongs to Diageo, the British drinks giant who also owns Don Julio Tequila, Casamigos among several other brands.

Monkey Shoulder

monkey-shoulder-whisky
  • Nose: Marmalade, vanilla, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon
  • Palate: Malt, vanilla, orange, honey, oak
  • Finish: Caramel, oak spice
  • Alcohol content: 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • How to drink: Cocktails
  • Similar to: Jameson

Taste:

The nose brings a marmalade aroma, with hints of vanilla, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon.

On the palate, the Monkey Shoulder feels smooth and creamy with very little heat on the first sip. Hints of vanilla, orange and honey pop-up, followed by a bit of oak spice bitterness.

The finish is short, with a tad of caramel and more oak spice bitterness to it.

The Monkey Shoulder becomes better when adding a drop of water as it becomes sweeter, while subduing the oak spice note.

Is it good?

Monkey Shoulder is an easy whiskey, good choice for those new to whisky looking for something approachable and affordable whisky for mixing and a great Scotch for highballs.

Where this whisky shines is in cocktails as its flavor profiles mixes incredibly well in any cocktail.

The Monkey Shoulder is not a single malt whisky but a blend of single malts coming from 3 prestigious Speyside distilleries: Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Kinnivie.

It can’t be considered a single malt as the set of regulations that govern Scotch whisky require single malts to be made at a single distillery.

Monkey Shoulder facts:

  • This whisky is a blend of malts with no age statement.
  • The name Monkey Shoulder comes from an injury that the maltmen (those that hand turn the grain in a malthouse) would get as it would leave one arm hanging.
  • This brand is owned by William Grant & Sons who owns prestigious brands like Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

Black Label vs Monkey Shoulder: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskyPrice
Johnnie Walker Black Label$33
Monkey Shoulder$37

Johnnie Walker Black Label vs Monkey Shoulder: Which is better?

WhiskeyBlack LabelMonkey Shoulder
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • The Black Label is the baseline for most people who take whisky tasting seriously.
  • It has a sweet flavor with the peaty notes making it an introductory bottle to smoky whisky which is demanding and higher to appreciate.
  • The Monkey Shoulder is an easier drinker, better suited for those new to Scotch Whisky or for an affordable mixer for high-end cocktails.

Personally, I prefer the Black Label which becomes quite good and satisfying when adding a dash of water; just a few drops of water suffice to make it sweeter and more enjoyable.

Differences between the Black Label and the Monkey Shoulder

There are a few differences between these whiskies that you should know:

  • The Black Label is a blend of 40 whiskies made from grain and malts aged for at least 12 years from all over Scotland. The blend includes peaty whiskies from Islay, sweet and salty whiskies from Speyside along some malts coming from the Scottish Highlands.
  • Monkey Shoulder is a blend of single malt whiskies produced in 3 different distilleries but not a single malt whisky. According to the United Kingdom’s Scotch Whisky Regulations a single malt must be made exclusively from malted barley, distilled using pot stills at a single distillery.

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