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Famous Grouse vs Monkey Shoulder: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Famous Grouse vs Monkey Shoulder in this in-depth comparison and decide which Scotch is better for You!

Famous Grouse

NoseApple, caramel, barley
PalateCaramel, citrus, honey, smoke
FinishMalt, citrus
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toRed Label, Jameson

The Famous Grouse has been Scotland’s favorite whisky since 1980.

It is superior to most Scotch blends in this price range. A simple whisky but it is smooth and lacks the overpowering bitterness that is found in other budget blends and makes a great whisky for newbies.

Nose is faint, with subtle notes of apple, caramel and barley.

On the palate, the Famous Grouse provides caramel sweetness up-front, with notes of honey and sherry, followed by a hint of orange.

It has a mineral note and a tiny tad of smoke bringing balance to the sweetness.

The finish is short-lived, leaving a malty aftertaste behind, with a bit of oak spice, orange and caramel.

Nothing spectacular or remarkable, yet nothing bad about it. Just a serviceable whisky that drinks nicely with a dash of water as the Scots been drinking whisky for the ages.

This an affordable whisky making an easy everyday drinker with no challenging notes. Now you know why is it so popular in Scotland.

The Famous Grouse is widely improved when adding a dash of water. Just a few drops of water break the dram allowing rich floral notes to emerge whilst tuning-down alcoholic notes.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Famous Grouse:

  • The Grouse is a blend of malt and grain whiskies aged for just 6 months in seasoned sherry and bourbon casks.
  • The Famous Grouse belongs to the Royal Family of Scotch whisky as it is owned by the Edrington Group.

Monkey Shoulder

NoseMarmalade, vanilla, baking spice
PalateMalt, vanilla, orange, honey, oak
FinishShort, caramel, oak spice
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toCopper Dog, Dewar’s 15

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.

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

Where this whisky shines is in cocktails as its flavor profiles mixes incredibly well in any Scotch cocktail, especially in Rob Roys and Highballs.

The Monkey Shoulder is not a Single Malt Scotch but a blend of single malts coming from 3 different distilleries across Scotland: 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.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Monkey Shoulder:

  • 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.
  • Monkey Shoulder is owned by Williams Grant & Sons along Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

Famous Grouse vs Monkey Shoulder: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Famous Grouse$24
Monkey Shoulder$37

Famous Grouse vs Monkey Shoulder: Which is better?

The Scots know something about whisky

WhiskeyFamous GrouseMonkey Shoulder
  • Monkey Shoulder is not a single malt but a blend of single malts coming from 3 prestigious distilleries.
  • Attractively priced making a good introductory whisky to single malts and Scotch whisky in general.
  • The Famous Grouse is a champ in terms of value for the money, making a great budget whisky.
  • It does not have any remarkable or memorable tasting note but comes handy as an “everyday whisky”.

I prefer the Famous Grouse over the Monkey Shoulder under the assumption that the Scots know a thing or two about Whisky.

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