Macallan is transforming Slate @ The Row, Kuala Lumpur, to launch Harmony Collection Rich Cacao, a new limited-edition annual release series. Upon entering the space, guests are welcomed into the Cacao Gallery, which has a block of chocolates from which to take pictures; A presentation of the different stages of cocoa – from fresh pod to dried and roasted cocoa beans, cocoa shells and nibs.
For a look at what’s to come, two cocktails are served. Sour cocoa is a mixture of The Macallan 12 years, Creme de Cacao, bitter orange, lemon and lime bush, which tastes too sweet for a sour cocktail. However, Harmony in Gold was a little smoky and easy to drink, as it was a blend of The Macallan 12, Creme de Cacao, Solera Sherry, bitter chocolate, Arabica coffee and the scent of orange.
Happy with a few cocktails and good company, guests are then ushered into the main dining space, which features two tall tables adorned with a garden-like centerpiece and tall tulip glass, along with three chocolate bonbons under individual mantles. The evening kicks off with a short video that takes us through the creation of the latest single malt.
The Harmony Collection is a new series inspired by The Macallan’s connection to nature; As such, his name was chosen to emphasize harmony with the natural world. It is the brand’s first limited edition to support sustainable packaging. As the first installment in the series, Rich Cacao whiskey is so special that the world of whiskey and chocolate have been combined to make it. Polly Logan, maker of Macallan whiskey, has teamed up with Jordi Roca, the youngest of the acclaimed brothers behind El Celler de Can Roca, for this unique malt. Logan visited the chocolate wonderland of Casa Cocoa in Catalonia, Spain, and was inspired by the creativity and passion Roca had for his craft.
“When I plunged into this world, I discovered a great synergy between the process of making whiskey and the process of chocolate. Both require time and exceptional attention to detail, even with the slightest change in the process encouraging different flavors and flavours.” For this expression, I searched for a specific chocolate note in barrels. Sherry-spiced traditional European oak is from The Macallan and I combined this with a vanilla note conveyed by sherry-spiced American oak casks to sweeten the slightly bitter chocolate flavor I’ve found. This exquisite single malt offers a delicious whiskey and chocolate pairing experience and a chance to take your Macallan experience to a new dimension. “
Celebrity pastry chef Roca says: “Our collaboration with The Macallan allows us to challenge our own creativity, and on this project we were allowed to play with cocoa, which is one of my passions. Being able to inspire whiskey and create a unique tasting experience was amazing.”
As a nod to the inspiration of chocolate and in keeping with the chain’s sustainability trend, the Harmony Collection Rich Cacao comes in a recyclable and biodegradable box made using a by-product of the chocolate-making process: cocoa shells. This not only reduces paper waste, but also gives discarded paper husks a new purpose. The set’s presentation box is in an elegant white color, with orange text and simple but impactful art.
After the video, we finally had the chance to try out the new single malt under the guidance of brand ambassador Jeremy Lee. The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao features an oak nose and centipede, with hints of chocolate fondant. One sip reveals a deep dark chocolate flavor with the sweetness of honey, vanilla and cinnamon. The overall chocolate taste lingers on the palate, ending with a rich finish.
Chef Natalie Arbeville joins Lee on stage to present her vision for the curated menu we’re about to enjoy. “I love projects that push me to get creative. There is nothing more exciting than working on connecting flavors and tastes. How can I not feel proud of being chosen to create a menu that can be linked to the Macallan Harmony Collection? It is very exclusive and delicate. The strong affinity that drew me to The Macallan stems from Our shared values of sustainability and fair trade, and above all, our commitment to sourcing the best ingredients for use in our creations.”
We start the meal on a sweet note, with bon bons. Each piece brings out the whiskey’s deeper cocoa flavors. Dark chocolate orange truffles, orange ganache, and a Guevara strip are understated, while the cinnamon and gingerbread are rich in caramel. Finally, honey truffles, made with Guevara chocolate, vanilla and honey, taste like nutty milk chocolate.
Arbefeuille introduces our meal by sharing the way she thinks behind preparing the double meal. “The Macallan Harmony range is very well balanced with a rich cocoa flavor, and of course, it pairs exceptionally well with the right chocolate and the right qualities. So, I aim for complementary flavors to look for the right pairing that highlights the key notes: cinnamon, vanilla, date, honey and chocolate, as Says.
The first starter is foie gras glazed with honey, date pearls with honey, cocoa twill and spicy duck. This lovely dish, served with a dash of cinnamon smoke, was a multi-sensory experience for sure. Also hit all the right notes: The earthy broth balances the sweetness of dates and rich foie gras. It brings out the hints of dark chocolate for whiskey. The second appetizer is a light lobster tail grilled in vanilla marinade in a polenta nest, topped with shield sauce, chocolate sauce and red chili confit tapenade. This was another dish of rich flavours, from polenta and tapnad to vanilla marinated lobster.
For the base, we choose wild Malabar fish seared with fresh Asian citrus, glazed vegetables, fruits and a citrus butter sauce. Unflappable fish and truly tart citruses are a great combination, and these fresh flavors bring out the smoky quality of the whiskey, which is more subtle on the first sip.
Candy is definitely a highlight, as it’s melting down of the different notes in the Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao—cinnamon, vanilla, dates, honey, and dark chocolate—all presented on the Fibonacci swirl in its display box. The candy itself mimics this look, and since it is inspired by nature, the painting resembles a forest floor.
As each sweet piece represents the flavors in the whiskey, it emphasizes these flavors with complete elegance. We were told to start our tasting journey from outside the whirlpool: first was the roasted apple and cinnamon candy shaped like a mushroom. Followed by creamy and sweet honey ice cream, honey sponge, and vetiver. chewing dates stuffed with date cream and pistachios; Light and delicate vanilla creme brulee with a Florentine disc; And finally, dark chocolate cocoa beans with crunchy chocolate nibs and chocolate cream. The last bite is definitely the best paired with whiskey.
While The Macallan has a deeply rooted 200-year-old relationship with nature, this additional step toward a more sustainable future is certainly a positive. The Harmony Collection Rich Cacao is the first in an annual series that promises complex whiskeys made with nature in mind.
This article first appeared on June 27, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.