Thursday, December 31, 2015


As a social drinker who occasionally gets treated to some fine libations, the recent whisky pairing dinner at Imperial China Restaurant was a learning experience. As usual, any Tai Thong Group event not short on red carpet treatment, evoking the decadence of old Shanghai and the drinking trad of the great Scots.

It was my maiden encounter with FiftySix Degrees Scotch whisky. Named after the latitude of the Scottish Highlands where the tipple is distilled and blended, FiftySix Degrees is crafted by Ian Macleod Distillers, the world’s 10 largest Scotch whisky company. Aged in handpicked bourbon and sherry oak casks, the youthful spirit is apparently conceived to appeal to the Asian market and is amiable enough for modern aperitifs like those we sipped on prior to dinner.
The resident Tai Thong culinary team pulled out the stops to show a wide variety of fine Chinese dishes go superbly well with the whisky’s soft citrusy top notes and rich malty heart. Starting with a show-stopping trio like Lobster with Fresh Fruit Salad in Italian Vanilla Dressing, Sliced Chicken with Foie Gras & Almond, and Crab with Roasted Sesame Sauce wrapped in Egg Roll with toppings of Shredded Coconut & Fish Roe helped tremendously of course.
Once the camera fest was over, we dug in with gusto. The rich dressing was heavy going but luckily, sips of the faintly oaky drink held the cloying richness in check whilst amplifying the nuttiness of the egg roll’s sesame sauce.
I like the whisky’s mellow fruitiness which came through as we slurped up the rustic sweetness of the Double Boiled Village Chicken Soup with Apricot Kernels and Snow Pear.
Roast meats are great with FiftySix Degrees and this was proven when sampled with crispy slices of Spice Roast Suckling Pig. Nobody can get enough of how smooth the drink is; its supple finish tempering the porcine’s voluptuous flavour. A shotglass of Chilled Ambarella Juice Shooter returned our palate to clean slate.
The blended whisky also went swimmingly with luxe treats and ample proof came in the serving of Braised Abalone, Sea Cucumber Stuffed with Tuna and Wantan. You won’t forget the cohesive merging of deep-sea and highland nuances or the multi-textural plethora in a hurry.
Like a fish caught in mid-frolic, the Yin Yang Estuary Tiger Grouper Grilled with Caramelized Onion & Sauteed with XO Sauce, Celery and Apple blew us away with its picture-worthy presentation, multiple textures and distinctive taste.
Interestingly, FiftySix Degrees even complemented dessert well. Try it on the rocks amidst bites of Chilled Black Sesame, Mango and Fresh Milk Layered Dessert or neat with Mini Pumpkin Dumpling with Sweet Potato & Cheese, and Sweet Corn Bun sprinkled with Cocoa Powder.

For a similar whisky pairing experience, contact IMPERIAL CHINA RESTAURANT, tel: 03-7956 6868. Address: 7th Floor, Intan Square, No. 3, Lorong Utara C, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

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