Ardbeg

Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Exclusive (51.7%, OB, +/-2017)

Whisky Review: Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Exclusive

  • Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky

ardbeg-kelpie-committee-release

What they say

Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Exclusive

Ardbeg Kelpie is named for the legends of the sea around Ardbeg.

Its powerful aromas of oily peat, salty seaweed and tarry rope have been produced by virgin oak casks from the Black Sea, intermingled with the hallmark Ardbeg flavour profile. Waves of spicy black pepper give way to a delectable tide of bacon and dark chocolate. Incredibly deep.

Non chill-filtered at 51.7% ABV

Official tasting notes:

  • Colour: Burnished Gold
  • Nose: A wonderful, intense, ‘dancing’ nose, with lots of different, intertwined aromas – powerful, oily peat, dark chocolate, smoked fish, hints of seaweed, and a curious, sharp herbal note.  Waves of spicy, black pepper. A splash of water brings forth some classic Ardbeg notes, such as creamy coffee, smoked fudge and pine resin. Even some hints of smoked coconut.
  • Taste: A peppery mouthfeel is followed by a crescendo of rich flavours.  Treacle toffee, Turkish coffee, smoky bacon and lots of dark, dark chocolate.  A curious burst of peachy, estery fruit, hickory wood, clove oil and a suggestion of black olives on the aftertaste.
  • Finish: Seemingly lasting forever, with deep, deep, almost subterranean flavours of clove, tar and rich toffee.

The-Kelpies

What I say

The standard ‘Limited’ Release of Ardbeg’s 2017 Ardbeg Day release termed Kelpie after the mythological sea creatures associated with Ardbeg’s coastal location.

I have to say I am much more familiar with Falkirk’s Kelpie’s – being 20 metres high and made out of 928 stainless steel plates weighing in at a total of 300 tonnes! Modelled on Clydesdale horses that would have pulled the canal boats across Scotland and also linked to the mythology of white horses or horses heads being the water-spirit to which they owe their name. We have visited them regularly since their construction and thought of them as we consumed this Ardbeg whisky.

Part-matured in virgin Black Sea oak casks as well as standard American oak ex-Bourbon casks before being masterfully married together to produce this Kelpie expression by Dr. Bill Lumsden.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Pale straw gold (2/20), medium-sized loose oily legs with slower-forming fine tears
  • Nose: Rich, deep, dark chocolate, toffee, less bitter, ashen and smoky than the Limited Release, with a much more earthy, coffee grounds, clay or putty and fudge nature, herbality is slightly wooden too like old rosemary
  • Taste: Chocolate, dark cocoa, crystallized sugar, treacle toffee, molasses, peach and melon fruit, coffee, leather, gingernut biscuits, coffee and walnut cake, sweeter on the palate than the Limited Release with some peaty/peppery elements and smoked sea salt
  • Finish: Long, salted caramel wrapped in dark chocolate, earthen peat and sweetened espresso coffee

Overall

Reasonable more enjoyable than the Limited Release at 46% ABV, this doesn’t require any water and is perfectly drinkable neat. A greater intensity to the chocolate and surprisingly more obvious fruity element, the other flavours are variants on a theme but are just packaged together better here.

Score 89/100

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