Fine Whisky, Delicious Food. Good Company
I really enjoy alcohol pairings ever since my very first one back in 2008. This has continued over the years as I’ve been invited to some pretty awesome and exclusive ones over the years and when the invite came in for Glenrothes I was very excited indeed.
Picked up Conne and we braved the rush-hour traffic and made our way over to the Hotel Majestic in Kuala Lumpur on 4 July 2013. This was actually my second visit to the newly revamped Hotel Majestic which is currently under the YTL group of companies.
Built in 1932, featuring a combination of neo-classical and art deco styles, the 51 room hotel sat on a hilltop site facing the Kuala Lumpur railway station. The main building is characterised by tall white classically proportioned Roman columns and detailed cornices., while the curved driveway and covered Porte Cochere adds to the sense of grandeur.
The hotel catered to every whim and fancy of contemporary society back in those years. For the first time in Malayan history, modern sanitation was introduced in all rooms, with hot and cold water, showers, and long baths in 18 rooms, something that we take for granted today but was considered the height of luxury in its day.
The hotel also featured custom designed furniture, silverware and furnishings imported from England all while a big attraction to KL’s socialites was the roof garden, with a dance floor and seating for 350 guests. Artistes from all over the world performed at the hotel, including popular acts from Hollywood and the Coliseum in London.
At its peak, The Hotel Majestic was the largest and grandest hotel in Kuala Lumpur, unrivalled for its prestige and luxury. Favoured by the colonial elite and prominent visitors, she was the venue for extravagant parties, Sunday curry tiffin lunches and that most European of traditions, the tea dance.
By the 1970s, newer, bigger and more luxurious hotels overtook it but the hotel was saved from demolition by the government, and was gazetted as a heritage building under the Antiquities Act. At the end of 1983, the hotel finally closed and became the National Art Gallery from 1984 until 1998, after which YTL was given the task of restoring it.
The dinner was in the Smoke House which also housed a cosy bar where we were hosted for a cocktail before the dinner.
The last drop – Glenrothes is so precious that you shuoldn’t waste any! Pouring it is Ronnie Cox, Director of The Glenrothes since 2003 and Global Ambassador of this single malt as well as the other top-end spirits products in the Berry Bros. & Rudd Spirits range.
He is a Master of the Quaich and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers and was voted the Ambassador of the Year for Scotland 2008 and then World Whisky Ambassador of 2008.
He is a nice warm gentleman who is married with two children and enjoys various sports. He calls aeroplanes “home” but lives in England when he’s not travelling the globe sharing his passion for whisky while enjoying all that the international world of connoisseurs and gourmets provides.
After the cocktail we were ushered into the private dining room which seats up to 11 pax. Among the other guests were Michael Cheang from The Star, famous food blogger Bangsar Babe, and writers from a couple of notable publications.
For us to try were four (4) Glenrothes vintages – 2001. 1998, 1995, 1988 (L-R). Ronnie taught us to look out for four (4) key attributes when tasting a whisky namely appearance, bouquet (or nose), palate (ie. taste), and the finish (the taste you get in your mouth after the whisky has gone down your throat). See the video at the bottom of this post where Ronnie teaches the techniques.
The Glenrothes distillery was established by the burn of Rothes in Speyside, Scotland in 1879, and has been producing its characteristic Speyside single Malt for over 130 years. Unlike most other whisky distilleries, the maturity of The Glenrothes is determined not by age, but by Vintage (think of it like wine however unlike wine whisky does not mature in the bottle so it is pointless keeping a bottle of whisky for years hoping that a 12 year old whisky kept in your cupboard for 6 years will taste like a 18 year old whisky). By producing it’s whiskies by vintage instead of age, Glenrothes aims to capture the spirit of some memorable moments, captured forever in specific expressions of their award winning liquid gold.
The Glenrothes is a single malt whisky made of exceptional quality featuring a combination of many factors including their unusually slow distillation process in tall copper pot stills that delivers their characteristic sweet, fruity and elegant spirit. Further flavours are derived from their extensive knowledge of maturation in oak casks.
Each expression/ vintage has its own unique personality, are the core of which lie the characteristics of the distillery – ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and an exquisite spicy finish in a creamy texture achieving a complex and well-poised balance.
My partner in crime for the night
Gin Oyster marinated in chilli, lime and gin. I love oysters and this one was zesty and refreshing. Interesting flavours that contrasted wildly with the Glenrothes Vintage 2011.
The Glenrothes Vintage 2001 has a rather golden, clear and bright appearance with a woody bouquet hinting of cherries (and apparently some can smell lemon meringue pie but not me). On the palate it tasted of oaky vanilla, and some pleasant and not overpowering spices (cream with grated nutmeg is also what some can taste). And lastly was the finish and for the 2001 was a rather sweet oaky vanilla with a little spiciness.
This was a very very easy whisky to drink as it simply slid down your throat. Add in a dash of water and it opens up even more flavours (I found it slightly sweet).
In the private dining room was the open kitchen where we could observe the chefs preparing our food while Ronnie regalled us with tales from his travels and of the Glenrothes of course.
Majestic Assiette – Salad of queen crab, Peking duck and smoked salmon roulade with tamarind dressing with sweet and sour reduction. Every bites was heavenly and the creamy and savoury flavours went deliciously well with the Glenrothes Vintage 1998.
The Glenrothes 1998 has a medium golden, clear and bright appearance with a rich, spicy vanilla, golden syrup and lemongrass nose. On the palate it was soft and mature, with sweet vanilla and a hint of cinnamon, while it’s finish was smooth, long, leaving the taste of rich vanilla on your tongue. This is not a whisky to drink fast as to really enjoy it you must slow down and savour the tastes on your tongue. It definitely cut through the creaminess of the salmon roulade while adding taste to the somewhat more neutral tasting crab salad.
Clear Seafood Soup with scallop, prawn and clam. The broth was oh so deliciously sweet from the seafood.
Then it was time for the main course!
Roasted Rack of Darling Lamb with rosemary crushed potatoes, vegetables fettuccine and lamb jus. This was paired with the rich and spicy flavours of the Glenrothes 1988.
The Glenrothes 1988 has a copper gold, clear and bright appearance with a rich and spicy bouquet of ripe, dark, berry fruits. It was rich, and full flavour on the palate featuring candied orange peel, fruit compote, and came with a very long, medium sweet finish. Not for amateur whisky drinkers as this was a really complex whisky.
I actually experimented pairing the four (4) Glenrothes vintages with the various dishes to see which I liked better. Some flavours went well with multiples dishes while some best suited the dish it was paired with. I even tried adding a dash of water to the whisky or a couple of ice cubes to try to release more flavours. My point is – don’t be afraid to try and experiment (but please don’t drink quality whiskies with Coke). You might find a combination that you like!
Warm Mango Compote with basil and vanilla ice cream. This was also paired with the Glenrothes 1988 and I liked how the flavours complemented each other. (tip – try not to have coffee with your food as the taste of coffee is pretty strong and will most likely overpower the taste of your food)
Ronnie brought with him some whisky that has not gone throught the maturation process in the cask.
Ronnie with a bottle of the Glenrothes Single Cask 1970 #10573 which was distilled on July 6th 1970, and it yielded just 179 bottles at a natural strength of 40.6% alcohol by volume. This rare whisky recently won two prestigious design awards at the 2013 World Whiskies Design Awards – the “World’s Best Single Malt – Limited Edition” and the overall title of “World’s Best Design”.
The materials used in the packaging of The Glenrothes Single Cask 1970 #10573 are kept to a minimum, using only crystal glass, brass, leather and oak. However you can’t help but be awed by the bottle’s beautiful yet simple design form and the high level of craftsmanship.
Featuring the distinctive egg-shape of the Glenrothes whisky decanter, the bottle is created by a master craftsman in Portugal using hand-blown pure lead crystal, and a plaque made of polished brass is applied to just one front facet: engraved with the year of distillation and the bottle number to ensure the uniqueness and authenticity of each individual decanter.
A hand-signed label by the Malt Master, Gordon Motion, is positioned around the neck of the decanter which is encased in a solid Scottish oak plinth in a fine hand-crafted leather case ensuring that after you’re done drinking the contents the bottle with its timeless elegance will make one heck of a prized masterpiece on your display shelf.
Here a little video of Ronnie showing you how to taste a whisky.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to taste the Glenrothes Single Cask 1970 #10573 as it’s so expensive however here are the tasting notes:
The Glenrothes Single Cask 1970 #10573 has a clear and bright appearance with rich golden hues.
For the nose it is distinctly earthy and autumnal, smelling of windfall apples and cider cellar, toffee apples with icing sugar, sponge fingers with custard, and puff pastry with apple.
On the palate it is light and peppery and fresh with citrus and eucalyptus. It has a subtle and supple, satin feel with a texture of crepe de chine.
It has a long and beguiling finish that gives you a taste of very, very dark chocolate.
There are only 10 bottles available in South East Asia, and you can get a The Glenrothes Single Cask 1970 #10573 at MYR 20,000.00 while stocks last.
For sales enquiries, contact Asiaeuro Wines & Spirits Sdn Bhd at 03-78832828.
For more info on Glenrothes check out http://www.theglenrothes.com
Glenrothes is distributed in Malaysia by Beam Global and for more info on Beam and it’s brands you can head over to www.beamglobal.com and www.drinksmart.com
Conne wishing her kitchen at home was as well-equipped at this one.
On our way home we passed by the Hotel Majestic’s Orchid Conservatory which consists of a hanging garden and orchidscape within a glass atrium, and is apparently the only one of its kind in Malaysia. The observatory features a seasonal range of phalaenopsis orchids; with thousands of beautiful flowers on display.
You can book the room to enjoy afternoon tea for up to 15 persons in this absolutely beautiful setting.