Known simply by his moniker “demon chef” Alvin Leung is a pivotal figure in Hong Kong’s culinary landscape. Leung first made a name for himself with his flagship restaurant Bo Innovation, which has retained three Michelin stars since 2013.
There, Leung popularised his signature X-Treme Chinese cuisine, throwing out all the rulebooks to create modern, inventive Oriental food. Leung is also a familiar face on MasterChef Canada, where he serves as a judge.
Now – for the first time ever – Malaysia will have an association with the famed chef through his partnership with Fuhu Restaurant & Bar, the new vibe dining concept by Zouk Group set to open tomorrow at Resorts World Genting.
“The launch of FUHU Restaurant & Bar is a monumental occasion for Zouk Group, as it marks our first foray into F&B,” says Andrew Li, chief executive officer of Zouk Group.
Leung’s restaurant in Malaysia will feature a modern take on classic Chinese cuisine.
“We are committed to providing the best, and there is no better way to mark this milestone than to partner a culinary mastermind such as Alvin Leung.”
Leung’s involvement is certain to inspire innovation and a bold, sanguine direction for Fuhu, which will feature a modern spin on classic Asian fare.
Menu items to look out for include Fuhu roasted duck, Boston lobster noodles, Szechuan-style hot & sour lobster soup and fried chicken and waffle.
Fuhu seats up to 150 diners and will feature an interplay of dining, nightlife and music, the latter of which the Zouk Group is most well-known for.
Aesthetically, the restaurant is designed to inspire wonder and joy, with a Chinese apothecary themed entrance, gargantuan sakura tree and floor-to-ceiling mural by grafitti artist Kenji Chai taking centrestage.
AirAsia has joined the fight to end AIDS with the creation of a new red-hot dish. The airline and Santan have teamed up with (RED) to create the INSPI(RED) Burger, a special in-flight meal.
The burger features a chicken patty infused with fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, topped with zesty green chilli mayonnaise, shredded purple cabbage and tomato on a red beetroot bun.
The dish is created by New York-based (RED) chef ambassador Hong Thaimee, who drew inspiration from her Northern Thai roots to deliver an East-meets-West culinary experience.
“It’s not only a delicious option for passengers, it brings real awareness to the AIDS fight and helps raise critical funds to finance HIV/AIDS programmes in Asean,” said (RED) chief operating officer Jennifer Lotito.
AirAsia Group brand head Rudy Khaw said the partnership is an “ideal marriage of two Asean personalities in support of the region”.
Guests are encouraged to pre-book the meal on airasia.com.
For every INSPI(RED) Burger sold, 10% of the proceeds will go to the global fund to support HIV/AIDS testing, counselling, treatment and prevention programmes in the region.
AirAsia has also created a special line of co-branded (AirAsia)RED inflight merchandise such as a remix of the iconic AirAsia cap and an aircraft model. For each item sold, US$2 (RM8.27) will be donated to the global fund.
(RED) is a licensed brand that seeks to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa.
In separate developments, AirAsia recently announced an expanded cooperative marketing agreement with Tourism Western Australia.
The agreement will see joint marketing campaigns developed to promote affordable flights to Western Australia.
The recent second edition of the Bangi Golf Resort World Durian Championship: Malaysia Edition saw more than 50 durians fighting it out for the top spots in categories like Musang King, Black Thorn, registered clone and D24.
Although there were some repeat winners – Eric Chan’s Dulai Fruits once again nabbed the prize for best Musang King and Tekka, there were also some new faces. (Go here for last year’s winners: 2018’s top 5 durians in Malaysia and where to find them).
Here are the two new winners of the best D24 and Black Thorn in Malaysia in 2019.
Winner: Sg Baong Jawi Durian Farm
Category: Black Thorn
Leow Cheok Kiang is a name that is likely to ring a bell in durian circles, where he is a venerated figure.
Leow is a 60-something Penang farmer who has three farms in Seberang Perai. He is also the person responsible for registering the vaunted (and now very expensive) Black Thorn clone in Malaysia.
Leow has won numerous competitions in Penang for his Black Thorn. This is his first time entering a KL competition. Photo: Pow Chiok
“Mr Leow started farming with his father when he was seven, so he has a well-established routine of taking care of his trees. If the tree is healthy, he knows that the fruit will be of good quality. So this is the fundamental idea that he follows to this day,” says Pow Chiok, Leow’s good friend and spokesperson.
Pow was instrumental in getting Leow to participate in the competition and even went to the extent of collecting fruits from Leow’s farm (and a few other Penang farms) and driving down to Bangi on the day of the competition to deliver them to the organisers.
Interestingly, while Leow has won numerous awards in Penang for his Black Thorn, he has never entered a durian competition anywhere else. His entry in the Bangi durian competition marks his maiden foray in a KL competition.
“This is the first time he is participating in this competition and Penang people are very proud of him because it just proves that his Black Thorn is one of the top, premium grade durians in Malaysia right now,” says a jubilant Pow.
Leow first discovered Black Thorn at a friend’s farm and took cuttings from the tree. His oldest Black Thorn durian tree is now over 50 years old and was originally a kampung durian tree which he grafted 35 years ago with the Black Thorn clone; this is also the tree that has yielded award-winning fruit.
Also read: ‘Durian Whisky’ is Malaysian-made, and not actually whisky
Leow first discovered Black Thorn at a friend’s farm and took cuttings from the tree.
As mature Black Thorn trees tend to yield better fruits, it is little wonder that Leow’s decades-old trees have produced creamy, sensationally delicious results.
Although Leow’s Black Thorn has collected accolades aplenty, he doesn’t export his fruit overseas; instead every year during durian season, he sells his fruit at a fruit stall in Sungai Jawi, Penang.
“His fruit stall is actually a preferred destination – every day tourists in Penang will flock to his stall.
“And he keeps his prices consistent, about RM60 to RM65 per kg throughout the season – he never raises prices even though others may be selling it for a higher price.
“And even though he only produces fruit for domestic consumption – his fruits get bought up every day and he often doesn’t have enough,” says Pow.
Where to taste the durian (until end of July only):
Durian stall (look for signs that say Ochee champion)
Jalan Jawi Jaya 2
Taman Jawi Jaya
14200 Sungai Jawi
- Leow is responsible for registering the Black Thorn clone in Malaysia. Photo: Filepic
- The Black Thorn trees on Leow’s farm are decades-old, which is why they generate rich, creamy fruits. Photo: Pow Chiok
Winner: Eco Valley Organic Durian Farm
Category: Best D24
Ocean Chua and his family had long been avid consumers of durian or as he puts it: “My whole family is crazy about durians – my wife, mother and mother-in-law can eat it three times a day from morning to night”.
Chua started the organic durian farm
with his friends so they could produce ‘cleaner’
durians. Photo: Ocean Chua
So one day, he and his friends decided to start their own organic durian farm in a remote part of Bukit Tinggi, Pahang.
The 30-acre farm is surrounded by the verdant greens of the Taman Negara forest reserve and has around 700 durian trees as well as rambutan, papaya, banana and mangosteen trees.
“We are an organic farm, so we make use of our natural environment. Like the fertiliser that we use is a combination of fermented seaweed as well as fallen leaves/grass which are mixed with soil and left to ferment. We treat the earth, not just the tree,” says Chua.
As a result of their careful ministrations, the soil on Chua’s farm now has a pH value of 6.5, so it is almost neutral.
In contrast, most commercial durian farms that use chemical fertilisers have more acidic soil with a pH value of around 4.5 to 5.
The farm also uses pristine water from a waterfall nearby to irrigate the trees on the farm, lending to its wholesome appeal.
Also read: How to choose a durian, according to durian experts
The river source that irrigates Chua’s farm. Photo: Ocean Chua
Pictures from the farm show a host of natural inhabitants from ladybirds to worms and bees. It is this natural ecosystem that Chua thinks has contributed to his creamy, rich D24 durians.
Although the durians on Chua’s farm are mostly intended for him and his friends, come durian season, the friends run a durian stall in Metro Pudu and sell their farm’s yield until supply runs out.
Asked about their win, Chua says this is testament to the notion that very good durian fruits can be borne out of organic farming practices.
“This affirmation is our motivation to continue preserving nature and cultivating healthy durians for the next generation. We also hope the award can send a message to other farmers that good durians can be produced without the aid of chemical fertilisers or pesticides,” he says.
Where to taste the durian (until end of August/supply runs out):
Eco Valley Organic Durian (KL)
40-G, Jalan Metro Pudu 2,
Off Jalan Yew
Fraser Business Park
55100 Kuala Lumpur
On the night of June 25, the lights at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre in Singapore shone brightly, casting an illuminating glow on the faces of chef Mauro Colagreco and his team from Mirazur, a restaurant in Menton, France.
Mirazur had just nabbed the title of the best restaurant in the world in the prestigious annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list, the first time a French restaurant made it to the top spot in the list’s 18-year history.
“It’s incredible, I don’t have words to explain. I own the sky!” said a joyous Colagreco.
But to understand how Mirazur edged its way to the zenith of the global restaurant scene, you first have to understand how the various cogs of the behemoth World’s 50 Best Restaurants machine work.
The inner workings
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants was initiated in 2002 by the staff of Restaurant magazine in London, designed as an alternative to regular restaurant guides. The magazine is owned by William Reed Business Media, which still organises the annual event (although Restaurant itself is no longer involved in compiling the list).
Over the years, it has evolved into an illustrious global restaurant ranking list imbued with power, repute and prestige. In recent years, the list has started attracting a stronger pull than that starriest of guides – the Michelin Guide. But to compile a list that calls itself the “world’s best” is a mammoth undertaking that is not without its faults.
Although technically every single restaurant in the world is eligible for nomination, the academy tends to favour fine-dining haunts with tasting menus like the one from Osteria Fransescana (pictured here). Photo: Paolo Terzi
To begin with, the list is put together by 1,040 voters from 26 regions across the world (and yes, Malaysia is included under the South-East Asian region). What defines a region though still seems to be rooted in traditionally accepted culinary strongholds – China and Korea for instance, are clumped under one region while Italy and France have a region each to themselves. Given the vastness of China compared to France and Italy, this inequity sets the tone for gross imbalance in some regions.
In terms of the voting, each region has an appointed chairperson charged with selecting 40 voters (including themselves) for their region. The voters are split equally into three categories – chefs and restaurateurs; food writers; and well-travelled gourmets who have to vote for their 10 favourite restaurants in the past 18 months (including four that must be outside their own region). Every year, a minimum of 25% of the panel is renewed and all the suggested voters have to go through a strict selection process.
“We liaise with the academy chair in each voting region on who they propose to be their voters, so they nominate them but with very strict guidelines from us. Then they put forth the panel and we say ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” said William Drew, director of content for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
This year, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy also instituted a 50-50 gender split on the voting panel, following complaints that there were not enough female voters and very few female-led restaurants on the overall top 50.
The academy voters now travel all over the globe to eat, as evidenced by the fact that chef Julien Royer’s Odette in Singapore is now one of the top 20 restaurants in the world. Photo: Suasti Lye
“The thing we can control is who’s voting, not who they’re voting for. Where it is within our control, we can control it,” said Drew.
The new voting split does seem to offer a way to try and initiate some positive changes in the restaurant scene.
The academy is slowly but surely becoming more inclusive in its selections for the top 50. Pictured here is the rice broth and peppered prawn heads from Chinese restaurant The Chairman, ranked No 41 on the list. – W50BR
“I think the diversity and the balance should come from the voters. I agree that if 100% of the voters are men, then they will have very masculine opinions. Whereas if you have a 50-50 voter split, I think that’s a fairer assessment and I think that’s where the gender balance should be,” said Benjamin Yong, CEO of the Big Group, who attended the World’s 50 Best Restaurants event and has eaten at over 20 of the restaurants in this year’s top 50 list.
Others had slightly different views. Famed French chef Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernadin (ranked #26 on the 2019 list) said he believes the voter demographic should mirror the realities in restaurants.
“I think ultimately at the end of the day, it has to be reflective of what the industry is – if the industry has 50% of women chefs who are excellent, they should be in the list,” he said.
If that’s true, then either female chefs are far behind their peers or the industry itself is still struggling to shrug off old-school perceptions because despite the changes to the panel, this year’s 50 Best still only has five restaurants led by female chefs on the list.
So in spite of the academy’s best efforts, nothing’s really changed – yet.
Contending with controversy
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants has generated controversy from the time of its inception and continues to attract contention – unsurprising, given the power it wields.
Unlike the Michelin Guide, whose inspectors are anonymous and fund their own meals at restaurants, voters in the World’s 50 Best are not required to pay for their own meals (although they are meant to remain anonymous). This in turn, has had the effect of tourism bodies and individual restaurants with deep pockets courting people they believe are voters.
Drew says that even though restaurants and tourism bodies may try to lobby voters to their eateries, they are making wild guesses about their identities, as voters have to remain anonymous. – W50BR
Drew, however, says that although restaurants might actively lobby people to come to their restaurants, they cannot possibly know whether the people they are inviting are voters or not.
“What they do is they lobby people to come to their tables, because that’s their job, to get people into their restaurants. The country’s tourism bodies, they don’t know if those people are voters or not. There are millions of people in the world. Of course they may make a guess – they may be right, they may be wrong,” he said.
If their guesses are right – there is the very tangible possibility that voters can be bought with free meals and in some instances, free trips. Add to that the fact that there is no scoring criteria required when submitting votes and you have all the workings of a potentially biased global panel.
Yong says these overt PR and marketing gimmicks sometimes mean that restaurants that blow their own trumpets can trump others that prefer to remain low-key.
“I was surprised that Ibai in San Sebastian wasn’t on the list – it’s got some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. But I think they are averse to awards, so maybe they shy away and don’t get involved.
“So I agree 150% that good PR goes a very long, long way. There are so many restaurants in the world so at some stage, somebody has to do something loud enough to be noticed for people to say, ‘I should check it out’,” Yong says.
Innes says being awarded the title of the world’s best chef means she gets a platform so people can hear her. – W50BR
Another award that has drawn criticism is the World’s Best Female Chef, an annual subsidiary title bestowed by the academy since 2011 that has been accused of being counter-productive to the concept of equality and inclusivity.
If even the Academy Awards doles out awards based on the best male and female actors – why shouldn’t the restaurant industry single out female chefs for special recognition?
But others have chosen to view it differently, positing that perhaps the status quo needs to be shaken up and maybe momentum needs to be created where none existed before.
This year’s recipient, 28-year-old Mexican chef Daniela Soto-Innes said, “It’s about a platform and when you are given the opportunity to have a voice so people can hear you, it doesn’t matter what the title is, it’s about the opportunity that you are given so be grateful about it and take it in with all the grace. And if people want to think bad things about the opportunity that I am given, it’s not on me,” she said.
With the new rules in place, the legendary Massimo Bottura’s restaurant Osteria Franscescana (which held the No 1 spot last year) will no longer be eligible to compete. – W50BR
The issue that perhaps ignited the most debate at this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants award is the fact that previous restaurants that attained the #1 spot are no longer eligible to compete. This means restaurants like Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park, Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Fransescana and the Roca brothers’ El Celler de Can Roca are no longer in contention (all were the prime contenders for the #1 spot).
Instead, all these restaurants get shunted to a Best of the Best list, sort of like a hall of fame for restaurants. This automatically applies to Mirazur now, which means that although he’s only 42, Colagreco will never be able to compete again unless he opens a new restaurant.
Still, most of the chefs on the Best of the Best list – at least on the face of it – seem to have accepted their exclusion from the race with good grace.
“The amazing part of this list is how it’s so global and shines a light on so many areas of the world which no other list has done. And I think the one part about the list we all know is, it’s not so much about your performance, it’s more about the moment.
“It’s sort of like being the restaurant for the moment. Like I know our restaurant is better than it’s ever been but I also understand that it can’t be our moment forever. There has to be moments for others,” says Humm.
Pulse on what’s current
In many ways, Humm’s words echo everything that is good about the list: 1) it has a more global reach and; 2)it’s got a pulse on what’s trending.
This far surpasses the more classic century-old Michelin Guide, which holds court in North America, Europe and a few Asian countries, with notable country omissions like Peru, Australia, Mexico and the entire African continent proving that it doesn’t quite reach the crooks and crevices around the planet that the World’s 50 Best is able to cover.
- Martinez is leading the charge for Latin American revival cuisine, which utilises native ingredients, something the academy has been quick to notice in its bid to champion diversity. Photo: Cesar del Rio
- Martinez frequently travels all over Peru foraging for indigenous ingredients to put on the menu of his restaurant Central, ranked No 6 in the world. – Photo: Jimena Agois
Just a quick look at this year’s 50 Best list shows a diverse range of entries from countries as far-ranging as Peru, China, Germany, Thailand, Brazil and Slovenia. While there are still gaps to fill (25 of the 50 restaurants are from Europe, India only has one entry in the top 100, there is only one restaurant from Africa in the top 50), there is now an obviously over-arching emphasis on inclusivity and diversity, something the academy is actively trying to ingrain into its voting system moving forward.
“We want to continue to spread the spotlight to different parts of the world. So if we go back 10 years, the spotlight would have very much been on Europe and US and now we see restaurants in Latin America and South America popping up, and different parts of Asia – Singapore, Thailand and in the future, maybe Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines,” said Drew.
The list is also very current in the sense that it is able to capture the culinary zeitgeists sweeping through the globe, from the new Nordic cuisine sparked by Denmark’s Noma and Geranium to the Latin American revival popularised by Central, to Bangkok’s sudden surge in culinary popularity epitomised by restaurants like Gaggan, Nahm, Suhring and Gaa to the currently-trending Mexican cooking encapsulated by Innes’ New York cause celebre Cosme and her mentor Enrique Olvera’s indomitable Mexican eatery Pujol.
Colagreco is an Argentinian who moved to France and now cooks at Mirazur using ingredients from his farm and herb garden. Aside from being the best restaurant in the world, Mirazur also recently netted three Michelin stars. Photo: Matteo Carassale
This makes it transient, fluid and highly adaptable to the times, providing vivid insights into what’s trending in the culinary world year-on-year.
The world’s #1 restaurant, Mirazur feeds into this theory that the list is increasingly becoming adept at championing interesting people and food concepts. Colagreco for instance, is an Argentinian who works in France and recently became the first non-French person in France to earn three Michelin stars – which fits in nicely with the diversity trope that the academy is trying to espouse.
His food also defies definition – he sources his ingredients from his terroir-driven playground which includes a vegetable garden, orchard and herb garden (where he has access to 150 different herbs). Everything on his plates pays tribute to the season’s freshest produce, like the local lemon Citron de Menton.
Colagreco’s story of mixing-and-matching ingredients based on what nature has to offer is one that is being played out all over the world in high-end restaurants putting local ingredients at the forefront – from Russian twins’ Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy’s Twins Garden (#19 on the list) which sources 70% of its produce from the brothers’ garden outside Moscow, to Central’s (#6 on the list) Virgilio Martinez who forages all across Peru for native ingredients.
If it’s a trend, it’s one the academy has clearly paid heed to.
“To be fair, trends will always play a part, you can’t ignore that. It’s what’s the flavour of the year is and people are always in search of new flavours.
“And I think the winner they picked was appropriate – from an observation perspective, it delivered the message they were talking about in terms of diversity. An Argentinian guy with a Brazilian wife cooking in France – it can’t get more diverse than that,” said Yong, laughing.
Olvera’s taco de jaiba desnuda is an example of the Mexican food now increasingly popular across the globe, something the academy has noticed and rewarded on the list. – Grupo Olvera
Ultimately though, seasoned chefs who have been on the list know that it’s just that – a list. It might help drive traffic to restaurants but it isn’t worth getting obsessed over.
“What I say to my cooks is ‘When you come to work, think about your passion – what is it?’ It is to be in the 50 Best or is it about cooking? It’s like an actor who’s on the stage and he’s thinking about the Oscar while he’s acting. If you want the Oscar, you’re not gonna get it, because you forget to act,” concluded the eloquent Ripert.
By now, you’ve probably heard about Durian Whisky, which went viral when it was launched in Singapore recently. But the real question is, is it actually whisky?
Here’s what we know about Durian Whisky. It is made from 100% Musang King flesh, contains added ethanol and sugar, has 18% alcohol base volume (ABV), and costs SG$98 (RM296) for a 250ml bottle and SG$198 (RM599) for a 750ml bottle.
According to a post by Singaporean whisky blog Dramocracy, Durian Whisky is actually made by a Malaysian company called Tropical Wine Sdn Bhd, which lists a durian liqueur product called Dorian-Inside on its online store (www.tropicalwine.com.my) for RM238.
Like Durian Whisky, Dorian-Inside is also made from 100% Musang King flesh, has added ethanol and sugar, and is also 18% ABV. Hmm, what a coincidence.
Now, I’ve actually tried Dorian-Inside, and I’m happy to say that it is an outstanding product that really does taste like liquid Musang King with a silky smooth and creamy texture, and somehow not too pungent on the nose and palate. If you love durian, you’ll probably love this.
Anyway, just for fun, let’s dissect Durian Whisky’s production process (which it displays on its official website) to see if there’s anything in there that can justify it being called a whisky.
The 700ml Durian Whisky is sold for SG$198.00.
First of all, what makes a whisky a whisky?
‘Whisky’ (or ‘whiskey’) are spirits distilled from grain products, including barley, grain, corn, rye or wheat, and usually aged in oak barrels for a period of time. Single malt scotch, for instance, is made from malted barley, while American bourbon has to have at least 51% corn whiskey in it, and so on.
So, that’s already one blow to the Durian Whisky’s claim to be a whisky. To tell the truth, a better category for it would probably be brandy, which is the common term for spirits that are distilled from fruits.
Cognac, Armagnac and pisco, which are distilled from grapes, are brandies. Applejack and calvados, which are distilled from apples, are brandies. Schnapps are brandies that are distilled from apricots, peaches, grapes, and so on. As long as the source of the sugars is from a fruit, the spirit is a brandy.
However, we would also hesitate to call Durian Whisky a brandy. In fact, we wouldn’t call it a spirit at all, since according to its official website, there is no distillation involved. It also only has a modest 18% ABV, which is a far cry from most whiskies’ minimum of 40% ABV.
But still, let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and check out their production process:
1. “The freshest and premium grade of Musang King durian is picked and the flesh is grinded, blended until smooth and extra fibers are strained.”
Well, no complaints about how they process their durians. Sounds delicious too, I must say.
2. “Using our patent technology, processes of ethanol and sugar is added.”
While we won’t comment on their ‘patent technology’, we can only assume that ‘processes of ethanol and sugar is added’ means that they add ethanol and sugar to the durian mix.
The addition of sugar is another nail in its whisky coffin. Generally, spirits that have added sugars are called liqueurs. It doesn’t matter if the base spirit is whisky, brandy or rum – if you add sugar in it, it’s a liqueur.So, based on their own explanation of their process, it’s clear that Durian Whisky is actually a liqueur.
But just for the heck of it, let’s plug on.
While there is no such term in whisky-making, ‘pressing’ is part of the brandy-making process, in which the fruits are crushed and pressed in order to release more sugars in preparation for the fermentation process.
However, since the durian was already ‘grinded’ and blended in the first step of the process, we’re wondering why it still needs to go through an additional pressing.
4. “Fermentation: Sulfurs are reduced to trace levels!”
Fermentation is the process in which sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the action of various yeasts or enzymes. In other words, this is the part where the alcohol in beer, whiskies, brandies, and other spirits is produced.
In the case of Durian Whisky, however, there seems to be some contradictions. They’ve already stated that ethanol is added to the durian flesh mix, so why is there further fermentation of the product?
And while we’re at it, what do they mean by reducing sulphur levels? Are they referring to the elements in the durian that give it its pungent smell? Another head scratcher, this.
Dorian-Inside is a durian liqueur made from 100% Musang King durians.
5. “Aging: added with whisky”
So, by now, we’ve pretty much established that Durian Whisky is NOT whisky. But wait, now they’re adding whisky into the entire concoction! We’re not sure what kind of whisky they are adding to the mixture of durian flesh, sugar and ethanol though, nor do we know why.
There ARE spirits that have whisky added to it in the market, for instance, Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur, and Drambuie, a liqueur that is made with honey and whisky. However, none of them are bold enough to call themselves ‘whisky’. ‘Whisky-based’, maybe.And to make it even more confusing, they’ve called it their ‘aging’ (sic) process.
In whisky terms, the process of ageing means putting the new make spirit into a barrel for years, so that the wood can impart flavours into the spirit. For Scotch, you need to age it a minimum of three years before you can even call it WHISKY, let alone Scotch.
So, is Durian Whisky put into barrels to age? Somehow, we doubt that.
Since it’s a purely distilled spirit, whisky doesn’t need to be clarified. There is, however, a filtering process called ‘chill filtration’, in which after it is removed from the barrel, the whisky is cooled to between -10° and 4° Celsius, and filtered through a fine adsorption filter. This process removes any sediments and oils from the spirit, and is purely for aesthetic purposes – a non-chill-filtered whisky can turn cloudy if water is added.
In Durian Whisky’s case, however, it’s a fair guess that ‘clarification’ refers to the process of making a liquid clearer by removing all solid components in it. It’s a process that is becoming more popular with bartenders, who have been experimenting with making drinks from clarified liquids such as milk or juices, and even clarifying entire cocktails.
Here, it makes sense for Durian Whisky to go through the clarification process, because there’s nothing more disgusting than having something lumpy in your mouth when you’re trying to enjoy your ‘whisky’.
So there you have it, having gone through the entire process of making Durian Whisky, it’s safe to say that it’s not whisky at all, but rather, a durian liqueur. And if that’s what you’re looking for, you might as well get a bottle of Dorian-Inside instead. After all, it’s cheaper, and chances are, it’s pretty much the same product anyway.
Michael Cheang loves durian, but still prefers eating the actual fruit over drinking it. Contact him on Facebook, Instagram (@MyTipsyTurvy) or Twitter (@MichaelCheang).
A close up of Durian Whisky’s label reveals that it was made by Malaysian company Tropical Wine Sdn Bhd.