John Walker & Sons XR 21 returned for its annual Mastery with a gala dinner on 31 October 2018 showcasing the best Malaysian cuisine and ancestry, coupled with the exceptional flavours and craft of the blended Scotch whisky. Held in Penang for the second year running (last year, the XR 21 Mastery was also held in Penang at the Khoo Kongsi), the XR 21 Mastery continued to be an appreciation of the rich Penang heritage and cuisine, which is an embodiment of Malaysia’s identity.
The third edition of the XR 21 Mastery took place at the acclaimed Colonial Penang Museum which is nestled in the leafy corner of Pulau Tikus. Rated as one of the Top 10 Museums in Malaysia by Trip Advisor, the museum is home to some of the oldest artworks in the country, some over 100 years old, standing testament to the over-pouring history which the state has painted for itself.
Embarking on a journey of gastronomical delight within the grounds of the museum, guests were treated to some of Penang’s best cuisines over a 7-course dinner, handcrafted by Penang’s most-loved street food legacy holders and reputable chefs to showcase authentic Chinese heritage and craft. With skills that were passed down from their ancestors, these street food vendors who have been serving the local community in Penang for decades, delighted the taste buds of many at the XR 21 Mastery with their most sought after savoury delights, plated to perfection by renowned chefs.
Each dish, from appetizer to main course and finally dessert, were meticulously handmade to exude rich flavours, just as the John Walker & Sons XR 21, which itself is crafted through an extremely rare three-stage blending method reserved for its most exclusive whiskies. Paired alongside these dishes, the intriguing layers of intensity in the whisky blend that are both surprising and delightful were surfaced, creating an enchanting experience on the palate.
Alongside the great dishes which were created from a time-honoured process, guests were immersed in a night of rich history with artifacts such as handmade sculptures, balinese wood and paintings from the 19th and 20th century. The Western art pieces in the museum brought in by Chinese trade merchants back in the 18th to 20th centuries, enabled guests to engage in the vibrant stories of yesteryear, accompanied by the exceptionally rich and smooth craft of John Walker & Sons XR 21.
Created to honour Alexander Walker II’s knighthood from King George V for his services to the nation, John Walker & Sons XR 21 was inspired by Sir Alexander’s own handwritten notes and blended from the Johnnie Walker reserve of rare whiskies, all of which have been matured for a full 21 years. This rare three-step process brought about notes of sweet honey and tempered spices, cloaked in warming smoke. Citrus zest, ripened tropical fruits and caramel swirl within hints of tobacco and raisins were prominent alongside the courses for the night, resulting in a long, smooth and complex finish where a myriad of flavours played out over a subtle tapestry of peatiness.
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