Thrilled to finally leave the house, I made my way to the Caribbean resto-bar Joloko here in Kuala Lumpur, where The Macallan introduced two new additions to its Double Cask collection, paired with a sumptuous meal. Joining the 12-year-old that was launched in 2016 are the Double Cask 15 Years Old and Double Cask 18 Years Old. After sampling fun cocktails with The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old — the Night In Blues concocted with blueberry liqueur, crème de cacao and bitters was a personal favourite — we made our way to a private nook upstairs for the tasting and dinner.
The Macallan Double Wood range combines spirit aged in American and European oak sherry casks to create a balanced whisky. While the whisky maker typically sources its European oak from the lush forests of Spain and the French Pyrenees to impart classic The Macallan flavours including spice, the American casks — responsible for the soft vanilla notes — are crafted with new oak from the forests of Ohio and Kentucky. Once the wood from these regions has been crafted into casks, they are filled with Oloroso sherry.
At The Macallan Estate on Speyside, seasoned casks are filled with new-make spirit and left to age, after which the Whisky Mastery Team creates a perfectly balanced Scotch from the American and European oak sherry casks. Master whisky maker Kirsteen Campbell notes, “Bringing together American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks to achieve the perfect balance of flavours is incredibly exciting for the Whisky Mastery Team. We are proud to offer two new expressions to this distinctive range for The Macallan Double Cask fans to explore.”
To mark the incredible union of these two distinct casks, The Macallan collaborated with renowned photographer Steve McCurry to document the production of the oak casks, the wood journey behind the Double Cask collection. Before dinner, we had a glimpse of this incredible photographic journal, which included vivid images of the casks being set on fire (an integral process to toast and caramelise the wood). As we watched, we snacked on African Biltong, peppered and cured ostrich jerky that is tender and incredibly addictive.
Before the first course, we sampled the Double Cask 12 Years Old. With a nose of toffee and butterscotch, this dram had a slightly smoky and woody spice flavour rounded with a warm and sweet finish. We were served oysters with tropical fruits topped with a little whisky, and they were light, refreshing and delicious. This was followed by Kibbeh Nayeh, a spiced goat tartare with bulgur wheat, pickled onion and turmeric mayo. The spicy tartare worked well with the 12-year-old, but the flavours of the following dish really brought out the honey notes in the whisky.
With the rise of veganism, I have seen many videos of attempts at roasting watermelon, and I was finally getting a chance to try some. Joloko’s Tataki — 48-hour roasted watermelon with chilli mayo, heirloom tomato and tempura roselle leaves — was divine and sadly not on its regular menu. The spices and roasting technique gave the watermelon a surprisingly meaty bite, and the accompanying spices created a flavourful dish with contrasting textures.
Next up was the 15-year-old whisky, which is rather different from its younger sibling. This single malt has the aroma of honey and dried fruit, the taste of sweet raisins tempered with a hint of vanilla from the American oak, a creamy mouthfeel and a light finish. It was served with a hay fire flamed and smoked hanger steak, a chilli and seaweed rub, fried kale and pickled onion, plus a side of Puerto Rican mofongo rice. It was certainly paired well; the salty char of the steak enhanced the sweeter notes of the whisky. Complete with the tart crunch of the kale and hearty bowl of rice, I found myself satisfied and very full.
Thankfully, I am a firm believer that dessert doesn’t go to your stomach (it goes to your heart), so I happily tucked into the rice tart made with tonka bean, whipped cream and orange zest. This warm slice of heaven was aptly served with the dessert-friendly Double Cask 18 Years Old. It was a sweet dram, reminiscent of dried fruit, ginger and caramel — flavours I did not expect but which allowed the evening to end on a sweet note.
The Macallan Double Cask range brings together two very distinct types of wood to create a harmonious whisky that transforms quite dramatically from the 12- to the 15- and 18-year-old. Although different, the three expressions celebrate balance. The two new additions are certainly a golden glimmer of glee in this challenging year.
This article first appeared on Nov 16, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.