Everyone knows nasi lemak, the unofficial national dish. It’s the simplest dish ever as it just uses a few main ingredients, half of it doesn’t even require real cooking – cucumber, hardboiled egg, fried anchovies and roasted peanuts. Apart from the nasi lemak – rice …
Month: November 2019
So this is a first for me … I’ve gone for wine tasting, and so too for whisky, cognac and gin, but tequila is an entirely new animal to me, I confess. And what I’ve learnt is that most of what we’re accustomed to, usually mixed in cocktails, is essentially low grade tequila!
What we know of tequila is almost always taken with salt and a squeeze of lime, but apparently, good grade tequila can and should be drunk neat, or at most with a wee bit of ice to bring out its flavours.
Chris Marshall, one part owner of Distilled, a Singapore-based independent brand development agency representing boutique beverage brands, was in Kuala Lumpur recently to explain the fine nuances of hand-crafted tequila Codigo 1530.
Having started as a private recipe tequila contracted by a family in Los Cabos for almost five generations, it was only named Código 1530 much later, meaning “the code” and based on the year when the city Amatitan, (where the brew was made) was founded. Made from the best Blue Weber Agaves grown by local farmers in Mexico, extraction of the best juice is from the first press.
For our taste test, we had four of the five variants: Blanco, Reposado, Rosa and Anejo.
Blanco, described as “the best reflection of the label”, is produced using fully matured agave that is aged over 7 years without ever touching a barrel to get that rich agave flavour. Chris said it was clean and smooth, but for me, even the scent alone was reminiscent of fumes that could power a car! The taste was just as powerful, with more than a slight burn. One website touted it to be a drink fit for kings, which figures why a plebian like me don’t know how to appreciate this.
More commonly found in the market, said Chris, is the Rosa, rested for four weeks in uncharred Napa Cabernet French white oak barrels. Pink in colour, the drink still packs quite a punch but was a lot more fragrant on the nose and gentler on the palate for me.
Personally, the Reposado like almost like shot of undiluted cask-strength whisky, resonating with more familiar flavours. Aged for 6 months in a French white oak barrel, it exudes bright and sweet agave notes with added complexity of vanilla, toasted caramel and subtle cocoa powder. The vanilla and caramel notes were most apparent, and easiest to drink.
Anejo is from ageing the Blanco in French white oak barrel for 18 months, and gives a refined and elegant expressive. The fruity notes with touch of spice was what I could perceive, and this was my second next best choice.
Extra Anejo “Origen” is considered Código 1530’s masterpiece, having aged the Blanco for 6 years in the finest Napa Cabernet French white oak barrels. This is said to be a lot like aged whisky and fine cognac, with similar tasting notes, but we didn’t get to try this variant.
Held at Astor Bar in St Regis Kuala Lumpur, the tequila tasting session was also an introduction to guest mixologist Benjamin Padron Novoa, owner of Licoreria Limantour in Mexico.
Codigo 1530, brought in by Dajin Beverages in Malaysia, has partnered with Limantour, ranked World’s No. 10 among The World’s 50 Best Bars. Benjamin will be working with Chris and Codigo 1530 to come up with three cocktails in a new series of tequila mix that will henceforth be part of Astor’s mainstay.
Imagine having a whisky pairing session in a coffeeshop! Not exactly your idea of fine dining, but essentially that’s what over 50 Glenlivet Guardians did one night. However, this was no ordinary coffeeshop, but one with a 91-year-old legacy that is still going strong, currently being steered by third generation boss, Mervyn Lee.
The name Yut Kee itself is an institution, being one of the first establishments to offer kwai loh food back when the British ruled in 1928, and today, its Hainanese style Chicken Chop still ranks highly. Walking in and getting a seat without waiting is a rarity, and after 8 years in its new home at Jalan Kamunting (formerly it was just around the corner along Jalan Dang Wangi), business is still booming. Say what you will about the economy, but Malaysians stay loyal to their favourite food haunts!
So, let’s get down to business and to the real stars of the night – Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old and 18 Year Old.
One of the very few places in KL that offers Roti Babi – soft fluffy bread stuffed with minced meat (Yut Kee’s version has lap cheong/ Chinese sausage) in the centre, this is best eaten with a dash of Worcestershire sauce to give it that sharp zing and heighten the flavour. Paired with the easy-to-drink smooth Glenlivet 12 Year Old, everything washed down pretty fast.
Everybody’s tummies were rumbling by the time the starter – Roti Babi – made its entrance and this was devoured in double quick time. Earlier, diners were already in a happy place drinking Founder’s Reserve while waiting for the food to be served.
Next course was Hailam Fried Noodles (lam mee) with Glenlivet 15 Year Old. The noodles drenched in flavourful broth is comfort food at its best, familiar and warms your insides, and tastes even better when accompanied by sambal which Yut Kee provides with a squeeze of lime. Likewise, the trusty and familiar whisky, a firm favourite with many Guardians, stood out as the highlight of this course, its initial slight sweetness matching that of the noodles, slowly giving way to a spicier and medium body that enveloped the mouth. But tasting notes aside, aiyah, most Guardians would say, just drink lah!
Hainanese Roast Pork and Hainanese Chicken Chop made their entry accompanied by the 18 Year Old. The Roast Pork is only served at Yut Kee during weekends from Fridays to Sundays, and runs out fast, usually served with apple sauce. If other dishes reminded you of the charming coffeeshop ambience so far, this signature dish made its mark as a class above the rest and is worthy of classy establishments. The pièce de résistance of the night, the crispy skin cracked at first chomp, a sign that that it was roasted to perfection with the meat still moist succulent. Paired with the award-winning 18 Year Old, it was gold as the excellent single malt, revealing a slight hint of citrus and spice at the start, its fruity notes brought to the fore by the complementing roast pork. A mouthful of meat, then a slow sip of the golden liquid, leaving a woody, faint smokiness on the tongue, heavenly bliss indeed.
Knowing full well how the Guardians enjoy their whisky, ambassador Lionel Lau reminded the diners to take it slow, savour the dram of this last whisky for the night’s tasting, and linger over the finish.
The night finished with Yut Kee’s popular kaya Swiss roll and marble cake, but many who felt the night was still young carried on the party with… Founder’s Reserve?
A bit of an anti climax, but a good single malt is never enough anyway.