You know the annual ritual of Ardbeg fans: late March, rushing, hammering and encountering an overload Ardbeg site, then curse, gets angry when site goes down, makes F5 key stuck forever and all just to grab a bottle (or case) of the latest Committee Release which precedes the Ardbeg Day general release. But the truth is that nowadays the site is usually more responsive and manage to handle the load, but the other part stays true and the bottles are quickly gone usually within the hour (site downtime notwithstanding).
I have to admit that up to Ardbog, the 2013 Ardbeg Day release, I was very happy with the special releases but I admit there had been a lapse of faith after the last few releases with Perpetuum being rock bottom, so when I heard on Kelpie, the 2017 bottling I was again very skeptic and thought to myself: Oh come on, what’s that wood voodoo of using casks from oak that grows in a remote region in Russia? It’s not like we really know (at least now) how exactly those casks were used: full maturation? finish? a mix?
But those questions won’t stop me from tasting it because a true whisky geek will be curious and will want to try it – hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release (51.7%)
Nose: Hmm, not your usual Arbeg or at least isn’t similar to anything Ardbeg released in the last few years. Lots of salt, Kabanos and salami (really! I was utterly shocked!), wet peat smoke, coals, pickled herring. Peat is very restrained, rounded and not sharp like recent releases, honey sweetness. With water, more malt, gets fresher, smoke and peat becomes more like recent releases.
Palate: Now this is Ardbeg, peat and ashes but still sporting a round edge, honey and apricots sweetness, salt, hints of salami and Kabanos. With water: gets younger, malt, saltier, still peat smoke but less ashes and added fruitiness.
Finish: Long finish, sweet salami, honey, wet peat, smoke and salt.
Thoughts: I was sure I’m gonna hate this. I mean, come on, who expects some voodooo wood from Russia to transform a young Ardbeg spirit into a good whisky? Seems like it’s enough that one named Dr. Lumsden expected so. Good job on this release but allow me to give a big warning to those who awaits the general release of Kelpie on Ardbeg day 2017: I don’t think it will be up to this version. It will be more mundane and in line with last few years releases. It might be a bit better but don’t count on it.