Steph and I had barely been back in Hong Kong a few days (after a great trip to Sydney) when an invite arrived for a whisky dinner with The Glenlivet, to be held at Le Méridien Cyberport. It'd been a few years since the last Glenlivet dinner we attended, and although Steph had plans, my fondness for The Glenlivet (and you know, eating..) meant I wasn't about to say no. So on a Friday night recently, myself and good mate Eddie Nara jumped in a cab and headed towards "Sou ma gong" (Cyberport).
Upon arrival we were greeted by Darren Hosie (Regional Mentoring Manager for Chivas Bros and good friend of TimeforWhisky) and handed a cocktail made with Chivas and...Dragonfruit?! Different, but it worked perfectly as a refreshing antidote to the heat outside.
Taking our seats shortly after, the hotel's GM gave a brief introduction and explained how the hotel has run successful wine dinners in the past, but was looking to expand into whisky, hence the five malts laid out in front of us.
With guests ranging from whisky novices to enthusiasts (and one CEO of an Australian distillery...) Darren gave a brief introduction into how to taste / appreciate whisky, before we jumped into the first dram - The Glenlivet 12 Excellence. We first tasted the Excellence earlier this year with Charlie Maclean, and enjoyed the sherry matured notes that aren't present in the regular 12yo (the "Excellence" is designed for Asian palates and distribution is limited to only certain countries in Asia).
With hints of chocolate, orange, paprika and cinnamon, it's noticeably different to the regular 12yo, and when paired with Parma ham and (vodka-infused) melon balls, proved a great way to kick things off.
|You'll have to forgive the references to "wine servings"...|
Next came Steamed Foie Gras with Banana Chutney paired with The Glenlivet Nadurra. Whilst not the most visually-appealing dish, it was spot on in terms of flavours, and matched better than I'd expected with a cask strength whisky like the Nadurra.
Gazpacho on a heavenly-cloudy peach malange was next, paired with The Glenlivet 18. Given the spiciness of the dish, at first I thought this might have paired better with the Nadurra....but that just goes to show you why I'm not a chef (or food pairing expert). This was a fantastic pairing, with the spiciness of the dish picking up the some of the cloves and asian spices in the 18yo, and adding an overall Demerara-like sweetness.
Next came Roasted beef fillet topped with Hazelnut, seasonable vegetables and orange gravy, paired with The Glenlivet XXV (25yo). A subtle / nuanced dram with a simple dish like a well cooked piece of beef was a smart option, and again these two complimented each other well.
Desserts often provide an opportunity for great whisky pairings, and this was no exception, with Whisky chocolate mousse with vanilla ice cream playing nicely off the sweeter, apple-like notes in the Limousin-aged The Glenlivet 15yo French Oak, even adding some hints of cinnamon that weren't obvious in either the dish or the whisky on their own.
In addition to the whisky and food pairings being a big success, the event also struck that perfect balance by being informative without going over guests' heads (or worse, putting them to sleep). With each course Darren gave a brief intro, explained a little about the whisky and thought process behind the pairing, and that was it. Guests seemed to appreciate the introduction, but also the chance to form their own thoughts on each pairing.
With the courses finished (and an extra dram or two of the XXV to wrap things up) it was time to call it a night. I'd have to say as the first Le Méridien Cyberport whisky pairing dinner it was a big success, and I look forward to seeing them run others in the future. Whilst I'd kindly been given a ticket courtesy of Pernod Ricard, at $888/head the dinner was great value - especially when you consider you'd almost pay that for a single dram of XXV in some Hong Kong bars!