Words: Robin Pascucci Photos: Monica Tindall
The Nant Whisky Bar, located on the first floor of the RP Entertainment Center of the Saujana Hotel, brings a unique new genre of bars to KL. Located above the more casual, pub-like Entertainment Center on the ground floor, the whisky bar upstairs with its sleek chrome bar and overlook onto the stage on the lower floor, is a quite literally a step up.
The menu itself is short, with three pages of drinks and just one page of food. Not wanting to be “too bistro,” they have limited themselves to a pub-style menu, and as such, the food section of it is short and sweet. However, although there are dishes that might qualify as pub-type favorites, such as the Honey Glazed Chicken Wings (RM 34), or the BBQ Beef Ribs with NANT Chilli Sauce (RM 58), there are other unique items like Arancini Gorgonzola (RM 34), Chermoula Prawns (RM 55), and NANT Braised Lamb Empanadas (RM 44), to name a few.
All of the dishes that we tried were well beyond standard pub food. The chicken wings and beef ribs were both slightly spicy and sweet, with moist, tender meat. The beef practically fell off the bone, and the ribs were accompanied by crispy thick-cut fries and an arugula salad with a light lemon dressing that complimented the sweet/spicy sauce of the meat. The deep-fried Arrancini cheese balls had me a bit frightened; I imagined they might be heavy or greasy, as fried cheese tends to be. But there was nothing heavy or oily about these cheese balls, and the breading on the outside was crispy and light. The marinara dipping sauce was equally light and complimented the flavors of the cheese. The pastry of the lamb empanadas was crisp on the outside but soft on the inside, and the lamb was moist and flavorful. The Chermoula Prawns were so good I could have ordered another plate of them. The North-African blend of spices was flavorful and slightly spicy but did not mask the flavor of the very fresh shrimp.
The most important part of this menu, though, was the drinks section. The bar offers four kinds of Nant Whisky (liquid gold): Sherry Wood, American Oak Bourbon Wood, French Oak Port Wood, and American Oak Sherry Wood Cask Strength. The first three sell for RM 60 per glass or RM 980 for the bottle, and the fourth sells for RM 98 per glass or RM 1630 per bottle. If this seems steep, remember, you are paying for “liquid gold,” as they call it, Tasmania’s only Highland Single Malt Whisky. Each bottle comes not only from a single distillery, but from a single cask, and each cask is tasted and approved personally by the founder and Master Distiller, Keith Batt. My personal favorite was the American Oak Bourbon Wood Cask, with a smooth, creamy, flavor with vanilla notes from its Bourbon cask. Though many of the tasters agreed with me, it seems that the spicier French Oak Port Cask is the best seller in Malaysia – a close second for me. The only way for you to find out for yourself would be to get a flight and try them all.
If straight whisky is not your preference and you prefer to try it in a cocktail, you have almost a full page of Nant cocktails to choose from, including classics like the Whisky Sour (RM 65) but also featuring the Sazerac (RM 110) which combines the Nant Sherry Cask Whisky with Cognac, Angostura Bitters and a slight rinse of absinthe, a lovely marriage of bitter and sweet. Or there is the Blood and Sand (RM 60), a refreshing blend of Nant Sherry Cask Single Malt with sweet vermouth and orange juice. The real gem on this page for me is the Black Ray Espresso Martini (RM 99) which blends coffee liqueur with house-made coffee infused single malt whisky and straight-up single malt whisky. Coffee-cocktail lovers beware – you will want more than one of these!
Finally, if you’re not a fan of hard liquor, you still have a page of beer, cider, and wine to choose from. The wines are all from Margaret River in Western Australia. I enjoyed the Saujana Selection (glass-RM 31; bottle-RM 152) – a crisp Sauvignon Blanc that went well with the Chermoula shrimp.
The friendliness of the staff combined with the quality of the food and drinks makes this place a must-try, especially for whisky-lovers. There is a good reason for the awards this whisky has won, and it’s well worth the detour off the beaten downtown path to find out for yourself.
Reasons to visit: stylish centre; excellent whisky cocktails; Nant whisky!
Nant Whisky Bar, RP Entertainment Centre
The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS
40150 Shah Alam
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
+ 603 7843 1234