Ardbeg Kelpie Review And Tasting Notes
The Ardbeg Kelpie is an Islay whisky of incredible precision, richness and balance. It has charisma, but for once, one of the peatiest distilleries in the world has let in honey, pepper and above all the sea.
Obviously, it is a peaty single malt, the fire of Islay is always present and dominates the sip and the nose, but the center of gravity of this splendid distillate is slightly shifted.
It deviates from the usual smoke attack and makes the sea talk. It is the salt, the iodine, the rocks, the algae, the saltiness that emerge, accompanied by sweet and velvety notes.
This splendid distillate is a special edition released in 2017 during Feis Isle. The festival of all the Islay distilleries and the beauty of this bottle is that it dares, goes beyond the stylistic boundaries to which the Ardbeg distillery has accustomed us.
It is an expensive, rare and difficult whisky to buy, anyway, you can find it online it’s not only a terrific distillate, but it represents an excellent investment for the future too.
How Is Ardbeg Kelpie Made?
The aging of the distillate is not declared, but smelling and tasting it feels a good dose of 10 years, the classic.
However, the double aging is particularly unusual: a part of whisky is aged in oak barrels grown near the Black Sea in a remote Russian republic, Adygea, while another percentage matures in classic ex-Bourbon American barrels.
It seems a weird operation or a sensationalistic gimmick to cause a sensation. Instead, it is a shrewdness that helps make the whisky softer, spicy, peppery, but also dual. With two souls, one hot and one smoky, fighting and biting each other in the waves of the sea.
There is no cold filtration and the distillate is bottled at 46 degrees alcohol to make such broad and direct aromas and flavors more incisive. The name Kelpie still reaffirms the relationship with the sea. In fact, this legendary creature of Celtic folklore is said to be an evil sea demon that lives in rivers and lakes and appears under the guise of a horse, to later become a sea snake, as good old Nessie of Lochness.
Organoleptic characteristics of Ardbeg Kelpie
And this whisky is like a demon of the sea: seductive, it grabs you and won’t let go, looks you in the eye and then drags you into a whirlwind. It’s not the usual 10-year-old Ardbeg. It’s a fantastic synthesis of the mastery of this legendary distillery, the peat of Islay and the soft charm of the malt.
Yes, because the peculiarity of this whiskey is the depth, the aromatic breadth: in the background, you can hear the roughness of 10 years, but with the stormy fury of the Corryvreckan to give sweeps of salt, even if in the end it points to almost honeyed tones, always peppery, but velvety, a caress that you do not expect from the Ardbeg.
The bouquet is incredible. It seems to be on a ship with the waves of the sea slapping you, the oil lanterns burning, the ropes soaked in salt and then again the smoke, which is never coarse and cloudy, but clear, takes the form of smoked meat, barley coffee, burnt sugar, barbecue sauce, pulled pork.
It is fleshy, almost sensual, and then those oxidized notes of ripe fruit and custard and chocolate that intertwine with clear herbal and medicinal notes are pure poetry. It looks like a lot of stuff and it is, but the stroke is fine, with this thick and oily charm that sticks to your nose and you never take it off.
It is of excellent structure, hot and salty. The spicy flavors push on the tongue, leaving a reminiscence of apple, vanilla and a myriad of green flavors such as pepper, olives, thyme and mint. Smoother flavors of caramel, chocolate, but it is also tannic and does not joke at all: the tannins give rigor and dictate the rhythm. And it’s a good thing because all this complexity would be lost if it were softer.
The persistence is infinite. It remains on the palate for minutes and minutes.
Price of the Ardbeg Kelpie
If you failed to buy it at the 2017 Ardbeg Day, you would have difficulty finding it. The price is very variable. It is out of production, a limited edition and highly sought after by collectors, but if you find it online at the cost of 160 euros, it is an acceptable price, also in terms of investment for the future.