Unlocking umami through this limited edition whisky

A groundbreaking whisky expression that captures umami, the enigmatic “fifth taste.” 

“Feast for the Senses” was an eight-hands culinary experience recently held at the Makati Shangri-La. The event took place in collaboration with Angelo Comsti of the Asian Culinary Exchange and the hotel’s Chef Edwin Lo. Don Baldosano of Linamnam MNL and Nicco Santos together with Quenee Vilar of Cafe Aurora were collaborators as well. It was the exclusive, one-night only gastronomic adventure that launched the limited edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami. Anticipation filled the air as guests slowly took their seats at the bar while waiting for the presentation to begin. I was personally curious about this new whisky that embodies the mysterious “fifth taste,” umami.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami is now available in the Philippines

READ ALSO: 8 Hands And 10 Courses: Blending Filipino And Singaporean Cuisine For A One-Night Only Event

The groundbreaking whisky expression resulted from a meaningful collaboration. Renowned Chef Kei Kobayashi and Johnnie Walker’s Master Blender Dr. Emma Walker artfully captured the enigmatic “fifth taste.” This is known as umami and is characterized by mysterious qualities.

Angelo Comsti of the Asian Culinary Exchange

Rajesh Joshi, General Manager of Diageo Philippines shared some insights. He believes that the Philippines is “poised to become an emerging luxury destination.” He also said they look at playing their part in encouraging consumers to drink better, rather than to drink more. This is why they are introducing the limited edition whisky as part of their growing luxury Scotch Whisky portfolio.

An invitation to immerse one’s senses in an exquisite journey of flavor

The launch started with a whisky mentoring session by Walker. She enthusiastically shared, “I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you here today for the launch of our new whisky, Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami is a limited edition whisky. We fused expressions in here, whiskys from our infantry that we’re never going to see again. So this is a truly one of its kind bottling.”  

Dr. Emma Walker mentors guests during the launch of the new Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami
Dr. Emma Walker takes guests through a mentoring session during the launch of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami

Walker asked guests, “What exactly is umami? Chef Kobayashi explained what umami means to him and it was mind blowing. He was talking about using different ingredients. If you think about umami, you’re thinking about an experience. You’re thinking about different ingredients, you’re thinking about the different things that happen to you as you’re enjoying a delicious meal.”

A glorious culinary journey

Finally, Walker took the guests through a tasting of the whisky, served neat with a spoon of Oscietra caviar. The tasting unlocked the full depth of flavor of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami. Layers of flavors unfolded into tiny little explosions in my mouth as I slowly savored the caviar and whisky. At last, my curiosity was satisfied upon this first taste–but only partially, as I realized there was so much more depth of flavor to discover.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami served neat with Oscietra caviar

I couldn’t wait for the second part of the tasting which would take place in another room just a few steps away, separated by a dark curtain. Upon entering the second room, we were immediately welcomed and captivated by the live music performed by The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra–and so the “Feast for the Senses” began. 

A wondrous culinary adventure, it explored the facets of umami, represented by nature’s elements of wind, earth, and water–with each dimension coming alive through the courses created by each chef–all expertly paired with the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami.

Dr. Emma Walker at the launch of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami

It was an immersive experience for the senses–sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch–from the orchestra’s live enthralling music mirroring the dishes’ inspiration of nature elements to experiencing the aroma and tasting the flavors of the dishes while indulging in the unforgettable specialty cocktails developed by collaborator David Ong.

Specialty cocktails developed by David Ong with Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Blending heritage and ingenuity

I learned that creating the blend of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami channeled years of experience between Kobayashi and Walker, a process that combined the unrivaled taste of Johnnie Walker Blue Label with the essence of umami.

The brand explained some key points. First, this extraordinary Scotch whisky is a testament to Johnnie Walker’s heritage and craftsmanship. Likewise, it is proof of their unwavering commitment to whisky innovation. Furthermore, it is a remarkable fusion of tradition and innovation. It is designed to tantalize the palate with a symphony of flavors.

In addition, it is a beautifully balanced Blended Scotch whisky of sweet and savory flavors. It has notes of blood oranges and red berries with sweet wood spice. You will note a touch of smoked meat, a hint of salt and pepper with a long, sweet fruit finish. 

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami

Walker shared, “The Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami is a testament to Johnnie Walker’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of whisky craftsmanship.” She added, “Working with Chef Kei Kobayashi to create this limited-edition Umami blend embodies that philosophy perfectly, as we explore the culinary world’s most elusive taste.”

Chefs Edwin Loh, Don Baldosano, Nicco Reyes, Quenee Vilar, and Dr. Emma Walker

Moreover, only one in 25,000 casks succeeds in bringing this elusive character to life. Each whisky was handpicked to create an umami profile, just like ingredients for a recipe. This allowed Chef Kei and Emma Walker to bring out the unique character of this innovative Scotch whisky.

This new limited edition release is available in limited quantities in the Philippines. You can find it exclusively at S&R, through Diageo Private Sales Channel via [email protected], and Singlemalt.ph. Drink responsibly. Visit the DrinkIQ.com site to learn more about alcohol facts.

Banner photo courtesy of Johnnie Walker Philippines.

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