It’s the Committee Release of Ardbeg Kelpie, a single malt released in 2017 having been matured in casks made from virgin Black Sea oak and more traditional bourbon casks. The Committee Release is bottled at the higher strength of 51.7% ABV.
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.
Palate: 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.
I didn’t expect to like the Kelpie, being a big fan of the Oogie and Corry. And yes, it’s true that the Kelpie is distinctly different. But it may now be my favourite Ardbeg. Does it have that famous Ardbeg complexity and peatiness? Yes. The smoke, though, is more muted, coming in on the tail end of some herbal, buttery, briny notes that give way to a sea-kelp/sea-weed flavor. It’s intense, yet more subtle than the Corry, and more salty than the Oogie. A long, satisfying finish.