Distiller: Ardbeg. Region: Islay. ABV: 51.7%. No age statement. Price: $125-160.
I have a true weakness for very few things. The filmography of Gerard Butler is one. And while I’ll sing the praises of London Has Fallen every day, my Butler love pales in comparison to my feelings for Ardbeg.
Unlike Mr. Butler, Ardbeg has yet to disappoint me. I adored last year’s Dark Cove Committee release, but I think this year’s might be even better. Named after the fabled Scottish water spirit, the Ardbeg Kelpie is a wholly different experience than any I’ve had with the Islay distillery before, possibly due to the use of Russian virgin oak (from the republic of Adygea) in the maturation process–along with Ardbeg’s usual ex-bourbon barrels.
Take the nose, to start. It’s got a hint of a slowly burning Cuban cigar. Muted espresso tones, faint brine, and a whisper of citrus. The palate has a base of slow drip coffee, but atop it roasted lemons, dark chocolate, and an oily BBQ residue dance along the tongue. It’s an insanely ambitious combination of elements and while any one would be too much, the interplay here is utterly exquisite.
And my whisky gods, the finish. It’s gentle and undulating and the citrus starts it off, but the familiar Ardbeg peat fire takes over and guides you home.
Friends, this one is a masterpiece and I’m damn glad to have tried it. Watch this space for an interview with distillery manager, Mickey Heads, coming soon. In the meantime, if you have an Ardbeg Kelpie review of your own to share, please do.
Here’s to art, real art, in our whisky. Cheers! – TM
Ardbeg graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.