Whiskey – the Irish liquid

Yup, not many know that the exquisite spirit of whiskey was actually something that originated in Ireland. But the Irish are used to being screwed, so Scotland’s whiskey is now more well-known around the world.

Initially distillation was used by boring early humans to make perfumes, but they soon graduated to produce better stuff, thanks to ancient Celts whose monks brought the tech back to Ireland to produce uisgebeatha (water of life).

Not a bird..

Not a bird..

The first Irish record of drinking waay too much whiskey is that of a chieftain in 1405 “taking a surfeit of aqua vitae” at Christmas. Yea, understandable. He OD-ed and died.

Till today, it’s the first written record of the existence of whiskey. Haha. Solid.

Anyway Kieran Crowe is a very-much alive Irishman who’s the brand ambassador of Jameson Irish Whiskey whom i met recently for a chat.

The Irish

The Irish

So what’s different about Irisch (i just made that up) vs say, Scotch? ”Well Scotch tends to be smokier. Irish whiskies are typically triple-distilled, makes it a little smoother. Also when we malt our barley, we don’t use peat to smoke ’em; we use heated air. That would be the main difference,” he says.

Cieran pretending to make a cocktail

Kieran pretending to make a cocktail

Irisch was bigger than Scotch for a very long time in fact. But a series of unfortunate events saw Scotch take over the number one position. “But over the last 25 years, Irish whiskey has gotten bigger and bigger, lead by Jameson.”

The unfortunate events include the Irish War of Independence and subsequent trade war with Britain which denied it access to Commonwealth markets.

Kieran says the worldwide revival began in a Brooklyn dive bar called Bushwick Country Club (not a country club), with affordable drinks and friendly staff. The bartenders there invented a shooter called the Pickleback. A shot of Jameson is chased by a shot of pickle brine. Gotta try it.

Owner John fixing a Pickleback

Owner John fixing a Pickleback

US is the largest market for Jameson, which takes half of their 5 million annual cases. Interestingly, 12 more distilleries are opening in Ireland over the next five years.

The second best-selling Irisch in the world is Bushmills, followed by Tullamore Dew. “Keep an eye out for Red Breast.” is his tip.

That's the delicious Scarlette O'Jameson, a cocktail with raspberries available at Locker & Loft

That’s the delicious Scarlette O’Jameson, a cocktail with among others raspberries, available at Locker & Loft only

How do the Irish drink Irisch? “Over rocks, with a little water. The younger ones drink it with ginger ale and lime.”  Ale & lime? That’s how i usually take rum!

I kinda enjoy Jameson Original. A good whiskey to be taken on it’s own, at anytime, and versatile in cocktails as well. It’s matured in a combo of ex-Bourbon barrels as well as Sherry casks.

Kieran leads a toast after the tasting session

Kieran leads a toast after the tasting session

Kieran also took a bunch of folk thru a whisky tasting, which went down at restaurant & cocktail bar Locker & Loft. Followed by shots of Jameson, like true Irish.

He however messed up big time and said ”Cheers”, but soon corrected himself – “Sláinte!!”

 

Brain damage: 7.5 / 10

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The Cocktails @ SIX

Had the opportunity to try some new cocktails at SIX. The drinks here are created by mixologist Imran.

The bar has been around for more than a year now in Bangsar. It’s a first floor outlet with a small kitchen as well, and is located along Telawi 2.

We had four cocktails to contend with, starting off with Six Me Baby One More Time. Yea, strange names.

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Six Me

It’s base is lemongrass-infused vodka, with lime, lemon and passion fruit involved. A citrusy nose, and the first thing i noticed about the taste is that it’s well-balanced. Nothing too flavourful; lemony with a bitter twist at the end.

Two Point Six Billion sure is sumtin else. Quite a surprise. Smokey mezcal with agave nectar, plus lime and charred capsicum puree. Immediate and pleasant aromas of fresh capsicum, almost like a Mediterranean juice.

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Love the colour

In the mouth it’s sweet-spicy, with a spicy zing from chili bitters, and slight smokiness. I could drink sumtin like this all morning. Delicious! You must try this one.

We had a Scotch that was infused with black truffle and rosemary in a cocktail called Sally is 60 in February. Lemon and egg white complete this drink. The nose is of spicy mushrooms, while the taste starts with a slap in your face; then it relaxes in.

A bit like drinking a bruschetta. Very interesting.

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Whisky-base, always  a challenge

There’s a strong cocktail that’s also a snack, the 36-24-Thirty Six. A combo of beef bacon-infused vodka, salted caramel syrup, bitters and vermouth. Flavours of vanilla, caramel and smoke. The bites are a skewer of beef bacon and black olives injected with white chocolate. I enjoyed this.

All the cocktails are RM38 nett.

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Yummy snack

SIX is also doing it’s homemade Eggnog, it being Christmas season n all. And it’s good.

Freshly-made

Freshly-made

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The bar area

The bar has a promo now that goes on in January as well, with three pints of Guinness at RM60 nett or three Tigers for RM50 nett, all day, everyday!

 

Brain damage: 7.5/10

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The Glenlivet dinner @ Dewakan

Glenlivet scored again with one of their cool events. This time, it was @ Dewakan, a restaurant at KDU in Shah Alam.

The selection for guests were three exceptional triple-cask matured single malt whiskies, which are exclusive to travel retail.

The spread

The spread

A really cool e-book about the whiskies

A really cool e-book about the whiskies

The Master Distiller’s Reserve, the cornerstone of the range, is joined in 2015 by two new expressions: Master Distiller’s Reserve Solera Vatted and The Master Distiller’s Reserve Small Batch, to become the new permanent range.

Interestingly three types of wood are involved with all the whiskies, contributing to their the multi-layered characters.

Interesting..

Interesting menu… (sorry about the spots – camera issue i think!)

The food at Dewakan was a treat for sure.

All whiskies involve the highest quality Traditional Oak, American Oak and Ex-Sherry Oak casks.

The first whisky was the Master Distiller’s Reserve. I got leathery spice on the nose, spicy in the mouth, with a sweetish end.

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The second one, New Master Distiller’s Reserve Solera Vatted, seemed drier, and gave me a citrusy nose. While New Master Distiller’s Reserve Small Batch was sweeter in a fruity way, with hints of marmalade.

The characteristics of various wood

The characteristics of the various wood

Dewakan is run by popular chef Darren Teoh. He’s a young dude that’s done well for himself.

Darren in action

Darren in action

Fried bread sticks, which were served with budu mayo!

Fried bread sticks, which were served with budu mayo!

Various species of shrooms being prepped

Various species of roasted shrooms being prepped

Lamb breast. Portions weren't big

Lamb breast. Portions weren’t big. Marinated for a day then cooked in a wood-fired oven. Amazing stuff

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Giant cockroach with ice-cream

The fortunate guests

The fortunate guests

All the whiskies are exclusive to travel retail, and are available at KLIA from US$51.

The meal at Dewakan was exceptional and new. Glenlivet and Pernod Ricard Malaysia have yet again done an amazing job with a really cool event, and was worth the drive to KDU University College in Glenmarie.

Lionel and his PR/event team at Millennium Associates aced it again. As usual, i look forward to the next one.

 

Brain damage: 8/10

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44 Pops Up again

Pop-up bar 44 has reappeared, after going under for a coupla months. It first appeared at APW in Bangsar, a warehouse joint. However, it’s got a different set-up and look now. While the first one had a really interesting industrial theme, this one has more of a modern and minimalist look.

44 now hides in a downtown spot at The Row, and the lifespan this time is up to December.

Like certain newer bars now, 44 is now upstairs

Like certain newer bars now, 44 is now stashed  upstairs

The joint had a guest bartender, Yishu, from Jigger & Pony for a visit. I had the opportunity to try some of the cocktails he made.

Starting with the Sakura Sakura, which was a real treat for a first drink. I should have saved it for last. It was like a fruity dessert. Delicious, finely-balanced, tho i expected it to be too sweet.

But the ingredients are surprisingly complex – Owney’s rum, peach liqueur, sake, lemon juice, sakura syrup and egg white.

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Sakurax2

Next was the Godfather – Scotch & amaretto. Nutty, with some chocolate goodness. It had a sweetness, but it was a good kinda sweetness. Like the natural flavours u’d find in a fruit. That’s probably courtesy of  the amaretto, which is almond liqueur. Such a simple but amazing drink.

Comes with a piece of flamed white chocolate.

Uncomplicated like a guy

Uncomplicated like a guy

And then there was fire. Flames and alcohol tends to get my attention. Mai Tai ala Sugarhall. It was Bacardi 151 (a 75.5% rum) that provided the burn. Yishu sprinkled some grounded spices to add some fireworks.

In it is cachaca, rum, orgeat syrup, spiced apricot syrup, lime juice.  It’s spicy-sweet, with some cinnamon coming thru but not dominating the show.

We also had a tequila cocktail. Haha.

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Parakeet

The lychee in this drink hits your palate off the bat. So i expected sweet shit, but no. It was fruity, but the lychee flavour flattens out quick, and surprisingly, you dont taste or smell any tequila. Fruity. It’s called Newton Flash.

We also tried some craft spirits – gins and American whiskies.

What stood out was a gin called New Deal – real strong berry nose, berry taste, but with quite a zing at the end.

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Also another cool one was Green Hook. Distinctly floral.

But by then, my taste buds were too busy partying to provide anymore feedback.

44 also ages pre-mixed, simple and classic cocktails, like Negroni. They are on display at the bar, in cool bottles, and aged for a few weeks, with oak added in.

The regular menu

The regular menu

To find 44, head to The Row (Jln Doraisamy, KL), and go behind Mojo.

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Just add ice..

Brain damage: 8/10

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