When two worlds come together, the most extraordinary things can happen. In this instance, we’re specifically talking about The Macallan Double Cask. The newest 12 years old single malt has been aged in both American and European sherry-seasoned oak, creating the perfect harmony of flavour and colour. The end result is a whisky with the delicate flavour of American oak and the traditional spirit characteristics Macallan is known for.
To highlight this extraordinary whisky, we collaborated with some of Hong Kong’s top influencers in fields of design, dining, fashion, nightlife and feng shui to explore what makes whisky so special and how it creates an unforgettable experience with every sip.
What do whisky and food have in common? Both food and whisky have a long history. The ingredients and principals remain the same yet the techniques and executions become more refined as the decades pass. The barley is still malted, distilled and aged; cooking methods are much the same as ever. It’s the little refinements that make a world of difference in food and whisky alike.
Can you describe the experience of whisky? How does that relate to food? I think the similarity for me is best represented by skilfully layered food. A simple dish or element that has layers of flavour carefully driven into it. The simplicity naturally makes you search for detail in the flavour and this is also the case with a premium whisky.
In terms of pairing whisky and food, how do you achieve balance and harmony between the two without letting one overwhelm the other? It’s not always easy but you can go down the route of matching the flavours, such as different smoky elements with peated whisky and things like malting your own barley into a dish to parallel the base flavour and process of the whisky.
Can you share an insider tip on how to easily pair whisky and food at home? I would work with flavour profiles that complement the whisky, but perhaps try to focus on interning textures that let the whisky do the work.
How do you drink your whisky? On the rocks for sure.
What do whisky and bars have in common? Whisky can be rich and dark. It can create a cascade of joyful warmth inside your belly and help you brave talking to pretty girls. A great bar can do just the same, giving you a home when you need shelter and a friend when you need someone to talk to. Both whisky and bars enable laughter, sexiness, fun and of course, rock and roll.
Can you describe the experience of whisky? What space does whisky occupy in a bar? The smell of whisky reminds me of my grandfather. He taught me how to play five-card stud, inspired me to write poetry and the value of unconditional love.
I’ve previously worked for Clyde Common, it’s a whisky centred bar in Portland, Oregon. Through my experience there I’ve been able to teach about American whisky trends in Singapore, which is when I fell in love with Asia. Last year I moved to Hong Kong to open my first bar, it’s because of these experiences that whisky occupies a huge part in my life (and my bar).
Can you share an insider tip on how to create mystery in your life with a few easy steps? Telling the truth is quite often the best mystery. I find that honesty bewilders people so much that they don’t know what to believe. Creating the idea of mystery gives them the opportunity to self-reflect so the focus isn’t on you, you’re actually hiding in plain sight.
In what ways do you think bars are the best venues for customers to enjoy whisky? Every venue is a good venue to enjoy whisky, it’s purely subject and situation. Personally, I like to enjoy my whiskey in unexpected places. Hong Kong has some great bars to enjoy your whisky in, some of my favourites are Stockton, Butler, Angel’s Share, Ronin and of course, The Pontiac.
How do you drink your whisky? The best way to drink whisky is everyday.
What do whisky and feng shui have in common? They both become better with time. When it comes to whisky, the longer it’s in the barrel, the better it gets. This is same with feng shui, the more years I put into learning about it, the better I become. Both become more valuable with time.
Can you describe the experience of whisky? How does that relate to Feng Shui and finding balance? They are both about enhancing life and creating a more enjoyable space. Having a glass of whisky at the end of the day can be very relaxing and that can be the same for feng shui. It’s all about finding peace in your life and creating a relaxing environment for yourself.
Where does the concept of “balance” come from in feng shui? Feng shui is about obtaining a balance in your personal life with family and friends but also at work and in health. The concept of balance stems from the I Ching (the book of changes), which is what feng shui’s yin and yang is inspired from. Yin and yang is about the positive and negative.
Can you share an insider tip on how to find balance in your life with a few easy steps? One of the most important steps to finding balance is to make time for yourself and to use that time to reflect. It’s important to find a way to relax, especially when you’re living in a city like Hong Kong. Whether it’s listening to music, meditation, yoga, feng shui and so on, find a method that works best for you. It’s also important to make sure you are true to yourself. Always be the real you and to do things that truly make you happy.
How do you drink your whisky? My husband loves whisky and he is the one who introduced it to me. I enjoy drinking it on the rocks after a long day of work, especially in a crystal glass.
What do whisky and design have in common? Everything we see from the most insignificant ubiquitous household item to the latest supercar is a result of product design.
What whisky and fashion share in particular is the necessity of brand design. It’s about story telling. To go beyond the mere product and connect with people on a visceral, emotional and fundamental level. To transport us to another place and elevate our lifestyle, and just like great fashion, whisky requires a certain taste in order to appreciate it fully.
Can you describe the experience of whisky? How does that relate to design and the presentation of a product? Exploring a well designed watch can be very similar to sipping a good whisky. The layers are present in both. Notes of this, hints of that. One is a journey of discovery on your tongue, and the other through the use of touch and sight.
Can you share an insider tip on how to transform your wardrobe with uniquely crafted shoes? Always wear your favourite pants when buying footwear. There is nothing more important than the transition between pants and shoes in my opinion. Some shoes work with wide pants and some don’t. Some shoes demand to be seen, others can make do with just the toes sticking out. So always plan ahead.
In terms of design, how do you combine contrasting or opposing elements to create something outstanding? Contrast can both make or break good design, and as such it should always be wielded with great caution. For example, choosing a white dial for a black case on a watch is a great example of simple contrast, and while putting purple top stitching on a white men’s shirt is also contrastive, it’s nothing short of disastrous. I always like to use what appears to be subtle contrasts, yet upon closer inspection they actually turn out to be completely opposing. It’s important to retain balance throughout the process.
How do you drink your whisky? I prefer my whisky neat with just a touch of mineral water to open it up. Whisky is always best enjoyed in the company of like minded people, as it definitely serves as a topic of conversation in itself.
What do whisky and tailoring have in common? In both tailoring and whisky making, the best products are a combination of the finest materials, dedication to craftsmanship, constant attention to quality and last but not least, patience. The best whisky makers go to great lengths to source the casks that the whiskys are aged in. Likewise, in tailoring, we are always looking for the best peripheral materials, such as interlinings and canvases, that play an integral role in the shape and silhouette of the final product.
Can you describe the experience of whisky? How does that relate to the experience of wearing a suit? So far, my experience of whisky has been one of discovery and learning. The more I learned about how different regions, different distillers and different production processes can yield very distinctive expressions, the more I began to discover my own taste preferences.
Similarly for suits, the way that a suit is cut can drastically affect the final expression of style when worn. The suppleness of the chest canvas, the thickness of the shoulder padding, or the shaping of the lapels are all variables that contribute to the style of the finished garment. The more I’ve experimented with different styles, the closer I get to discovering what my own personal style is.
Can you share an insider tip on how to transform your wardrobe in a few easy steps? Before buying anything, think about what you need. Does your job demand a more professional, business-like wardrobe? Or can you mix it up with a more relaxed style? Outside of work, do you attend a lot of social functions? Or are you more of a homebody? Understanding what you need will save you from buying clothes you won’t end up wearing.
When it comes to your personal style, how do you bring together contrasting or unexpected elements to create a unified look? I try to keep the contrasting or unexpected element restricted to one or two pieces per outfit. For example, if I was wearing a more eye-catching shirt with a bolder pattern or colour, my suit and tie will be plain in a more neutral, muted colour. Just like in a good Whisky, if there are too many strong elements, you run the risk of them working against each other.
How do you drink your whisky? I generally like my whisky either neat, or with a little bit of water. But most importantly, a good whisky needs to be shared with good friends.
This story is presented by The Macallan. Clothing provided by Lane Crawford and Ascot Chang. Photography by Dino Busch.