George Town, Penang, was the host for this year’s edition of the indulgent XR 21 Mastery series – an exclusively Malaysian platform for celebrating local hidden gems and expertise in the culinary arts, enjoying at the same time Johnnie Walker & Sons XR 21.
The stage was set – literally – at Khoo Kongsi where the guests dined at tables prepared on the opera stage across the courtyard from the more than 100-year-old clan house. The intricate craftsmanship of the temple has made it a major tourist attraction in Penang (and Malaysia in general) for its great historical and cultural value. It was this element that Johnnie Walker connected with, linking with their own history of craftsmanship and legacy of excellence. Both the Khoo clan house and XR 21 are maintained by masters of their craft, some in fields that are becoming a dying art, making their work all the more valuable and important.
The XR 21 was created in tribute to the British knighthood awarded to John Walker’s grandson in 1920, made from whiskies that are aged for a minimum of 21 years and drawn from extremely rare Johnnie Walker reserves. So with exceptional whisky must go equally exceptional food.
Curating the menu for the evening was Chef Spider Kong (owner of Soul Food) and Chef Jeffry (head pastry chef at Metisser Dessert Parlour), diving into the culture of Penang delicacies and home-grown ingredients. “Each dish is inspired by the history and culture of Penang, diffused through the local ingredients with the rare blend”, said Chef Kong as he started the evening.
The four-course dinner included delicious plates of tiger prawn kerabu, chicken ravioli, a mains choice of seared barramundi or tamarind lamb, and a dessert creation called the Ambar Tree (a whimsical dark chocolate ball filled with chocolate mousse and chunks of amra fruit) crafted by Chef Jeffry.
Paired together with the subtle notes of vanilla, honey, smoke, and soothing spice of the XR 21, the dinner was an enjoyable experience made even more memorable surrounded by the pre-war buildings of Canon Square and the beauty of the striking Khoo clan house.