Food & Drinks

Intimate whisky pairing dinner with chef Kendi


Sharon Mwangi, EABL Luxury Spirits brand ambassador and Stephanie Omwenga at the Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky and food pairing at Fifteen Rooftop on October 1, 2021. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG


  • Fifteen rooftop restaurant in Nairobi held a Johnie Walker Blue Label Scotch pairing in which a chef matched a four-course meal with the whisky.
  • The Blue Label is Johnnie Walker’s most prestigious whisky, with a bottle going for  Sh23,000 to Sh30,000.
  • Among the meals served were hors d’oeuvre, angus beef fillet, and marquise chocolate dome, among others.

When we think about alcohol pairings, intuitively we reach for premium bottles. I was recently at a Johnnie Walker Blue Label scotch pairing at Fifteen Rooftop restaurant in Nairobi.

Kendi Magira, the Executive Chef at the Fifteen Rooftop matched a four-course meal with the whisky.

So how does its taste blend with mushroom, smoked salmon, truffle parmesan sabayon with micro-green salad?

“We’re taking a very different perspective for the pairing, to show the more feminine side of the Blue Label. Instead of stating the obvious, I want our guests to discover the softer side of the Blue Label which is hidden, and is something that you won’t normally get to savour,” said Chef Kendi.

The Blue Label is Johnnie Walker’s most prestigious whisky.

It is made of old-aged malt and grain whiskies, said East African Breweries Limited reserve brand ambassador Sharon Mwangi.

“Those who drink Blue Label are definitely well-to-do individuals, both male and female because whisky consumption is at about 50:50,” she said.

“A bottle goes for Sh23,000 to Sh30,000.”

If you are newbie, the first sip reveals a velvety mouth-feel, then an explosion of flavour – hazelnuts, honey, rose petals, sherry, and oranges. Subsequent sips reward you with more hidden secrets like kumquats, wispy aromatic smoke, sandalwood, tobacco, and dark chocolate.

The roots of Blue Label reach back to 1867 when Alexander Walker— son of John Walker— created what he called “Old Highland Whisky.”

The intent was to create a blend that would feature flavours indicative of the “four corners” of Scotland. Today, Blue Label is one of Kenya’s top shelf whiskies.

Each bottle of Blue Label is numbered. This is because only one in 10,000 casks in their reserves (which total over 10 million maturing Scotch whiskies) have the richness and character to create a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

The dish

Back to the table and for those of us who had not had the pleasure of sampling the spirit, the Blue Label whisky, best served neat, offered rich layers of fruit and spice, as well as the distinct malt flavour.

First was the hors d’oeuvre, which consisted of mushroom and chevre soufflés. A treat for both the eyes and palate. Next up were the entrées which included smoked salmon over Hass avocado, truffle parmesan sabayon with micro-green salad.

For the main course, I had an option of picking three different dishes. I chose Angus beef fillet. This lean cut of beef is famous for its tender texture and mild flavour. Buttery and juicy, beef fillet requires mild seasoning as you do not want to overpower its natural flavour.

It was served with a gastrique, JW Blue pearls, broccolini, and croquette potatoes. There was a choice of duck two ways and mushroom risotto.

Ending the night on a sweet note was the marquise chocolate dome. A delicate balance of textures, and taste, it comprised of a warm butterscotch sauce.

The only thing left to do was to raise a glass to the great Bard and call it a night.