What exactly is John Walker & Sons XR21 whiskey? It was developed in honour of Alexander Walker II’s knighthood from King George V and inspired by Sir Alexander’s very own handwritten notes. Inspired by this, Moet Hennessy Diageo Malaysia has introduced The Legacy Collection that celebrates the Malaysian Chinese’s history and culture. Each bottle contains whiskey from an extremely rare three-step blending process reserved for Johnnie Walker’s reserve of most precious whiskies, each aged at least 21 years old.
Dating as far back to the 15th century, the history of the Chinese community in Malaysia began when they worked on local lands and soon became a part of present Malaysia. Through the years, their colourful dialects and culture were passed from generation to generation and has shaped their current identity today. This is recognised and celebrated through three unique bottle designs and packaging of The Legacy Collection, which has been designed in partnership with Malaysian duo Loka Made. The bottles represent three Malaysian Chinese clans – the Cantonese, Hakkas and Hokkiens.
The Cantonese were one of the earliest Chinese groups to conduct business trading out of their homeland in China and are known for their use of the abacus and traditional chinese steelyard in their respective trades. On the bottle and packaging, illustrations that represent them include the the famous Guang Dong Lion Dance, a traditional folk art combing dance, music, and martial arts often performed at festivals; dim sum and tea, which showcase the favourite pastime of yum cha; and the carp, which implies the expression of “a leap to a dragon gate, worth a hundredfold” — the expectation of the diligent business of Guang Dong businessmen.
The Legacy Collection Hakka bottles features designs representing the hardworking values of the Malaysian Hakka people in tin mining, a main contributor to their livelihood in the 18th century; Hakka food culture such as Lei Cha (tea and rice), as well as the traditional practices of the Hakka people in Malaysia, like the Pi Xiu dance which is performed on Tian-Chuan Day — the biggest and most important celebration for the Hakka people.
The inspiration behind The Legacy Collection Hokkien comes from the Hokkien clan’s survival from persecution back in the Ming Dynasty. They sought refuge in a sugarcane plantation, which then became a form of offering to the Jade Emperor known as ‘Tian Gong’, as a token of gratitude and worship. The design also draws inspiration from Hokkien Opera — a popular traditional performance practiced in Malaysia that is well-loved by the older generation, as well as one of the most distinctive Chinese clan houses in Malaysia, Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi. The house, which stands in Penang and is open to visitors, has elaborate and highly ornamented architecture.