The Secretive Whisky That is Mortlach Shines In Style At A One-Night Culinary Event

A secretive whisky by quirk of fate, the single-malt whisky of Mortlach has nonetheless endured through the centuries. Since 1823 when it became the first legal distillery in Dufftown – one of the key whisky production regions in the present day within the Speyside region – Mortlach has enjoyed halcyon days, becoming the choice dram for well-to-do local gentry who could afford its asking price. Later on, following its 1923 purchase by John Walker and Sons, its single malts became a component in the company’s blended scotches. Now, two centuries later, Mortlach sees its gradual restoration as the single-malt of choice.

The dining room awaits guests of Robb Report Malaysia.
Mortlach whisky ambassador Chong Wai Keng

At The RuMa Hotel & Residences, the hotel’s new executive chef Mandy Goh took on the challenge of pairing her latest menu at Atas restaurant to this secretive whisky for a one-night special dinner experience with Robb Report Malaysia. Over the course of her culinary career, Goh has served in the kitchens of Guy Savoy in Marina Bay Sands, The St. Regis Macau, the Richard Ekkebus-founded Mandarin Oriental Pudong’s Fifty 8° Grill and most recently The St. Regis Langkawi.

The dinner was the culmination of a Robb Report Malaysia and Mortlach partnership

Her latest Cultural Heritage menu – which bears plenty of Peranakan inflections – becomes the template on which Mortlach’s three core expressions shine; the 12-year-old Wee Witchie, 16-year-old Distiller’s Dram and 20-year-old Cowie’s Blue Seal. As the evening progressed, guests were beguiled by the sensations of this secretive whisky through the narrative of Diageo whisky ambassador Chong Wai Keng. From the dark chocolate and cherry jam of the 12-year-old Mortlach to the apricots, honey and almonds of the Mortlach 16YO, there was certainly plenty to discover within the swish confines of Atas restaurant.

The Ruma Hotel’s executive chef Mandy Goh
From left: The intensely aromatic pandan butter, and Small bites of mud crab sambal and cucur kapitan
Alex Lee and Fion Leong
Assam pedas risotto

Throughout the evening, guests savoured a medley of innovative dishes such as small bites of mud crab sambal and mentaiko otak-otak, to a kerabu with Japanese squid and caramelised pomelo, to an assam pedas risotto composed of Sakura shrimp, ulam and sea grapes, as well as a guinea fowl with asparagus and natural jus. To complete the evening, the Mortlach 20YO’s mellow elegance of berries, cocoa nibs, gingerbread and raisins was paired with the Goh’s 2.81 dessert rendition of heirloom carrots done sous vide in nutmeg juice, and served with a side of nutmeg ice cream. On her choice of menu to pair on this occasion, Goh says: “growing up, Peranakan for me was a window into another world.” Her memories were that of her grandmother’s cooking which also bore the hallmarks of this distinct cuisine. “In a way….” she muses, “… it was like a secret revealed.”

Mortlach’s unique flavours and aromas are represented through a sensory display at ATAS restaurant.


The RuMa

Photos: Sunlee Khan

Video: Wynner Cheong/ Metal Cut Films

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