Friday, February 07, 2014

Glenfiddich's 125th Year Anniversary Celebrations

It's a strange phenomenon for me.  I ALWAYS remember the first time I met someone, if they subsequently became good friends, no matter how insignificant that first meeting was, and regardless of the time elapsed since then.  Likewise, in the days when Chivas & Johnny Walker reigned supreme in plebian Malaysia, I remember CLEARLY seeing the first bottle of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old.  I was intrigued by the triangular bottle and the green round casing, hitherto never seen with other brands.  And wow, single malts, the very idea itself was placed on that pedestal, as I gawked in youthful awe.  When oh when will I ever reach that stage in life when I can say I drink single malts.  Fast forward, maybe 20 years down the line, and the young people of today, sigh, ....a 15 year glenfiddich is the bare minimum acceptable.

Age and pretentiousness aside, I still think the 12 Year Glenfiddich is a fine drink, and I would not hesitate to drink it on any occasion.  You can imagine my elation and excitement when I received an invitation to the Glenfiddich's 125th Year Anniversary Celebrations, held at the KL Hilton, with a dinner spread prepared by celebrity Chef in Black, Emmanuel Stroobant.  Good whisky, good food, could life get any better?  Well, good company certainly would help, and at that point, I wasn't sure who I was going to meet , but that wasn't a major worry, coz nothing breaks the ice like a few shots of good single malt.

Their signature 12,15 and 18 years on display.

Unbeknownst to me then, this was the star of show,  the Glendfiddich Anniversary Vintage.
Distilled on Christmas Day 1987, as part of the single malt’s centenary celebrations, this special release marks 125 years of pioneering whisky making at The Glenfiddich Distillery. It was selected on Christmas Day 2012, the distillery’s 125th anniversary, by its founder William Grant’s great-great grandson, Peter Gordon and his son, Dougal.

It was almost like a shrine, and I had the audacity to place my glass of 12 year old on that table, which was hurriedly removed by a very concerned lady.  Can't take me anywhere, I tell you!

While we mill around, waiting for dinner to start, we get to see Chef Emmanuel Stroobant in action.  The venue, 7even in KL Hilton, is a great venue for this kind of event, coz we get to see the action, and it really fascinates me the love and effort that goes into the plating of each dish.

Charcoal bread seems to be the in thing these days.  Detoxify as you eat and drink, perhaps.

Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, William Grant & Sons South East Asia Brand Ambassador said, “Glenfiddich Anniversary Vintage celebrates an illustrious 125 years of innovative whisky making. It’s a true honour to be able to choose such an exceptionally rare spirit to celebrate Glenfiddich’s pioneering legacy and our continuing commitment to create ‘the best dram in the valley’. With Malaysia’s growth in fine whiskey appreciation in the last few years, it is indeed very exciting for us to introduce this one-of-a-kind whisky to this part of the world.

He also said that he will not say too much about the tastes of each whisky before we taste it ourselves, lest he influences our thought pattern.  It was better for us to discover the subtle flavours ourselves.

As an experienced whisky educator, Matthew (who's actually Australian) enjoys nothing more than talking to people about the ‘Water of Life’, and maybe even sharing a dram or two. As he frequently tells guests at his tastings, with a sly grin, “Don’t worry about asking too many questions, you’ll get tired of me talking about whisky before I get tired of talking about whisky”.

Brand Ambassador and Chef in Black, with the latter explaining what we were about to eat, and how it pairs with the first whisky, which is the 12 Yr Old.

Scotch Quail Eggs, with oak smoked salmon mousse topped with glenfiddich infused poached pear, homemade tartare dressing, wild herbs and popped malt. Of course, it was quicker for me to finish the entire dish than to read out the name of the dish.  Such delicate flavours, and who doesn't love scotch eggs.  It's something I myself would never do, it seems like so much work.  This dish was paired with the 12 Year Old single malt, which is a gold winner for the International Spirits Challenge 2013.

I stumbled across this pageantry on the way to the little boys room.

As the courses progress, so do the drinks, and we are on to the 15 years, which actually I think is my favourite.

Warm Spiced Crusted Lobster Tail in Glenfiddich Flamed Lobster Bisque, Honey Caramelized Almonds and Vanilla Butter Emulsion.  What can I say?  The lobster tail was superb, but the bisque, and that slightly alcoholic nuance from the whisky, best soup I've had all year I'd say.  Superlatives fail to describe this.  Usually restaurant portions of lobster tail are miniscule, one wonders if they are prawns masquerading as lobsters, but this one was sizeable, and the meat was so succulent and lobstery.

What precious cargo does she hold?
Coinciding with the release of the Glenfiddich Anniversary Vintage, a silent charity auction was held to raise funds for Oxfam International’s appeal for donations to Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines.
The Glenfiddich Anniversary Vintage will be available from 20th January 2014 before the strictly limited bottles travel from the distillery to whisky connoisseurs and prestigious establishments around the world.

Each bottle will sell for a minimum of USD1,168 (Approx RM3,850..might as well round it off to RM3,888).  Actually, there are only 286 bottles throughout the world, so they are pretty rare.
The silent auction required the well heeled guests and high net worth individuals (which excluded me automatically) to place their bids in a bowl.  The auction wasn't really that silent, because results are shown on the screen, so that you can outbid the highest bidder.

48 Hour Braised Black Angus Aberdeen Short Rib (Scottish of course), Hay crusted beetroot puree , date, apple, smoked potato bouchon with Glenfiddich gel and beef jus.  Simply amazing.  Although I personally can never see myself braising anything for 48 hours, (which is 47 hours too long in my book), the result was absolutely divine.  Melt in the mouth, fall off the bone meat that is a perfect balance between fat and meat, accompanied by the stunning sides, but best of all, accompanied by the 18 year Glenfiddich.  Already high, I was really on cloud nine by this time.

Glenfiddich Cream Canachan, honey lime ginger custard, raspberry , toasted oatmeal and toffee dust, with the DRUMROLL.... the Glenfiddich Anniversary Vintage!!! Out of 286 bottles in the world, we managed to get a shot...there were almost tears in my eyes.

Glenfiddich Anniversary Vintage boasts complex and sensuous flavours that have been allowed to develop and mellow in oak casks for a quarter of a century. Rich fruit cake, toasted almonds and cinnamon flavours flourish on the nose, underpinned by a zesty citrus note enveloped in vanilla sweetness, allowing hints of hints of liquorice, leather and ground coffee. On the tongue it takes on a beautiful velvety texture, rich and spicy with a sweet sherbety flavour. The depth of oak tannin creates an intriguing balance of sweet and dry with a luxurious mouth coating oiliness, which is decadently succeeded by a long-lasting, sweet, oaky finish.

That was the description given anyway.  Truth be told, it was really really good, and was a real fitting finale to the night, but it was difficult to pick up all the subtler nuances considering I'd been imbibing copious amounts of the 12,15 and 18 earlier on.  Oh dear, this incriminating statement might just see me kicked out of any future guests lists.

The dessert was a lovely way to end that decadent meal.  The tangy custard also gave that requisite kick to give a second wind to the senses.

Just look at that glorious viscosity, and the tears clinging on to the sides of the glass...much like my tears clung to my face when we were given the privilege of tasting this rare drink.

Oh, and as for that quiet charity auction, I recall the highest bidder bidded USD2,888-00 if not more.  I recall each bottle being roughly RM10,000, and five were sold here.  It was wonderful of William Grant & Sons to do something like that for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Us mere mortals taking a shot with celebrity chef Emmanuel Stroobant.  Azhar Ahmad from Newman magazine, me, and Jeremy from William Grant & Sons Group, the holding company of which is William Grant & Sons Holdings Limited of The Glenfiddich Distillery.

Since I had SUCH a good time, I could NOT resist buying this beautiful gift set of the Glenfiddich 18 Years, which came with a gorgeous decanter with the Glenfiddich Deer Cap Complete with Antlers.  I shall save it for a special occasion.

Special thanks to Sarada Chellam for the invitation, and for the wonderful hosts at William Grant, (Jeremy especially, and Zhi), the PR guys from Text100 (Pashmina and Elya) who were such wonderful company.

Ooh, and I just found out William Grant & Sons Group makes Hendricks Gin, and Balvenie, two of my favourite drinks.

1 comment:

Ciki said...

Tres chi chi! so atas la you .. these days.. can't even recognize my ahpa any more... :P