New York City provided the atmosphere via a Hudson River Cruise, while Ardbeg provided the memories
Even by Islay standards this new single malt scotch from Ardbeg has a distinctly maritime charter, with a leafy green spine of peat that is downright, well, kelpy! So they named it for the mythic water spirits called kelpies, which have beguiled and bewitched many a mortal in that part of the world since Pictsh times.
The wider release version of Ardbeg Kelpie made quite a splash, when introduced to the crowd after two hours of a breakfast buffet, raw bar, and the open spirits bar featuring core expressions, Corryvreckan and Uigeadail, along with the classic 10 year-old age statement expression.
This included trying them in new and novel ways, like this outrageously spicy/smokey potion I dubbed the “Bloody Skeery.” Skeeries being the wee rocky islets dotting the Scottish seacoasts, including the ones making up the protected nature reserve directly in front of the Ardbeg distillery.
A Most Wonderful Host
Ardbeg put on this cruise, and similar events in other cities, for their Ardbeg Committee members, an organization that is free to join, just as the entire event was free for any Committee member lucky enough to sign on for the 4 hour cruise.
Just when we began to wonder if we might not see any Kelpie, one actually came on board in the form of a giant pile of seaweed with enormous red lobster claws, similar to the ones that served up earlier in the day.
But the real starfish of the day was the new Kelpie expression itself, which contains Ardbeg matured in virgin oak casks from the Black Sea region of Southern Russia and then vatted with more typical Ardbeg aged in bourbon barrel casks.
As expected, this 46% is a tamer spirit compared to the cask-strength special committee release. But really, it is the very same whisky.
There is the big leafy green nose awash with maritime accents and fresh sage, between the balanced bookends of oak and smoke, and considerably creamy vanilla custard, while being a leaner Ardbeg than the others that tasted during the cocktail hours before the official Kelpie launch. It is not as oily or weighty as the core expressions, but so full of ever-changing flavor.
And like the special edition, which was bottled at 57.1%, a dash or splash of water spreads it out, while releasing even more flavors including the same lovely baking spices of clove and nutmeg, along with freshening up the smoke and maritime notes of seafood and kelp.
It does not pack they same wallop, but provides a calmer yet still very delicious single malt experience. As one venerable malt man with many years in the industry put it, “I could see this being my peaty whisky for the entire summer !”
May there be that much of Kelpie in its wider release to go around, and last that long.
Read our in-depth review of Ardbeg Kelpie HERE
Apparently Kelpieitis IS contagious!!