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Wednesday, 18 November 2015 | MYT 12:00 AM

Crafted in the highlands for Malaysian palate

SITTING in at a whisky pairing with Chinese food may sound like a rare occasion but the Tai Thong Group is hoping to set themselves apart by introducing their diners to a marriage of flavours.

Since FiftySix Degrees made its debut in the Malaysian market early this year, the boutique whisky has been promoted for its smooth citrusy notes with whisky drinkers alike.

The FiftySix Degrees is distilled and blended in Scotland by Ian Macleod Distillers but it is shipped to Malaysia to be bottled, giving it a local touch.

Named after the latitude of the Scottish Highlands, FiftySix Degrees is at its heart, a Highland Scotch whisky, blended with the Asian palate in mind.

The idea for the blend started with 56 Degrees Marketing chief executive officer Kristine Goh whose frequent trips to Scotland eventually led her to learn how whisky was made.

She met up with Leonard Russell, managing director of Ian Macleod Distillers, and discussed about coming up with a blend specifically for the Asian market, resulting in FiftySix Degrees.

Goh wanted a whisky which would appeal to a wider range of drinkers and one that would augur with the Malaysian palate.

During the one-night only whisky-pairing dinner, Tai Thong came up with a six-course meal to introduce diners to the drink.

As we arrived at the restaurant in Subang Jaya, we were treated to two varieties of cocktails, aptly named 56 Escape made with a mixture of pineapple juice, mint and whisky and the slightly sour Scottish Lass, a mixture of peach puree, rosemary syrup, lemon juice, green tea and whisky, which I preferred.

The cocktails were complemented with mouth-watering pre-dinner snacks of Crispy Crab Dumpling with Wasabi Dressing, Deep-fried Pumpkin and Lotus Root with Salted Egg.

For appetisers, we were served Lobster with Fresh Fruit Salad with Italian Vanilla Dressing, Sliced Chicken with Foie Gras and Almonds and Crab with Roasted Sesame Sauce wrapped in Egg Roll topped with Shredded Coconut and Fish Roe.

We then savoured the Double-boiled Village Chicken Soup with Apricot Kernels and Snow Pear before the much awaited Spice Roast Suckling Pig which paired well with the whisky.

“This whisky has a distinct flavour and is easy to drink; you can have it with just water and ice,” said 56 Degrees Marketing sales director Steve Ng.

He added that whisky was popular among women drinkers and he hoped it would capture the hearts of diners at the restaurant too.

For the main course, chefs at Tai Thong prepared three dishes starting off with the Spice Roast Suckling Pig, followed by the Yin Yang Estuary Tiger Grouper Grilled with Caramelised Onion and sauteed with XO Sauce, Celery and Apples.

The final dish for the evening was the Braised Abalone with Sea Cucumber stuffed with Tuna and Wanton. Guests were entertained by a band who rendered popular Chinese and English numbers.

No meal is complete without dessert. We each had a small platter of Chilled Three Layered Pudding, Mini Pumpkin Dumpling with Sweet Potato and Cheese Sweet Corn Bun topped with Cocoa Powder.

The dinner priced at RM1,888 for a table of 10 with two bottles of the FiftySix Degrees whisky.

The whisky is currently available at selected Tai Thong Group restaurants, bars and eateries.

IMPERIAL CHINA RESTAURANT 3rd Floor, Jaya Square, 7343, Jalan SS17/2, Subang Jaya, Selangor. (Tel: 03-5636 1266) Business hours: 11.30am-2.30pm (Monday-Friday); 10.30am-2.30pm (Saturday); 9.30am - 2.30pm (Sunday & public holidays) 6pm – 10.30pm, daily. Non-halal.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.