Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release (2017)
I’m going to keep this short, since I don’t like repeating a dumb marketing story that doesn’t really reveal anything. The Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release is a No Age Statement whisky. It has matured in ex-bourbon casks and virgin casks made from oak from the Adyghe Republic in Russia.
Other than that virgin oak casks obviously interact differently with spirit than ex-bourbon casks do, I’m not quite sure if it matters that the oak comes from Russia. According to Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling, these particular casks are renowned for the depth of flavour they impart.
I’ve said too much already. Let’s just taste…
Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release (51,7%, OB, 2017)
Nose: Big on the licorice and bonfire smoke, with also quite a bit of seaweed, charred wood and smoked mackerel. A whiff of pineapple, conifer too. Some cracked black pepper. Just a wee bit of rubber and iodine.
Taste: More phenolic with asphalt and tar, but also some roasted peanuts. A bigger hit of rubber too, as well as some brine. It is quite spicy, maybe even a bit too much. Lots of pepper, ginger and nutmeg. It swims well. Water has a calming effect on the spices.
Finish: Slightly dry. Burned lemon peel, tar and rubber. Gentle smoke. Quite long.
A big and unapologetic Ardbeg. I don’t dare say that I can taste the difference the Russian virgin oak makes. But this must satisfy the hunger of any Ardbeg fan, even though I do feel this is not exactly the unique whisky it maybe should’ve been.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.