For aeons, kelpies could only be found on the muddy shores of Scottish lochs. And even there, these deceitful water spirits that preyed upon the poor souls of unsuspecting passers-by were not seen all too often. Lately, however, we recorded a sheer flood of kelpie sightings all across the globe. It all started back in March, when Islay cult distillery Ardbeg released a high-strength edition of the Ardbeg Kelpie to its international fan club, the Ardbeg Committee. And it continued yesterday, when a huge part of the whisky world celebrated the launch of the regular version of the Kelpie on Ardbeg Day. Although I did make it to the big festivities in Berlin this year, I still got up early on June 3rd and popped in on my local Ardbeg Embassy to secure a bottle of this sought-after peat bomb, which only comes in limited quantity, for myself. Needless to say, I also took the opportunity to try a dram of the Kelpie before I went on to buy it, albeit only for my personal enjoyment and not because I was still undecided. Since I am a dedicated Ardbeg fan and a total sucker for the Committee Release of the Kelpie, I knew right from the start that this strong, salty and positively unusual whisky would be totally up my alley!
Eye: Sandy with a pale golden shimmer.
Nose: In the nose, I almost found the regular version of the Kelpie to be more intense than its high-strength counterpart. The striking aromas of salt, tang and mint are accompanied by a biting iodine note. You only need to sniff this immense Islay malt once to know that it ain’t no small fish. It’s a goddamn sea monster!
Palate: Did I just swallow a mouthful of the foaming waves that keep crashing against the rocky shore of Islay on a windy late summer’s day? The Kelpie is very salty, slightly bitter and definitely not for everyone. While the less adventurous whisky drinkers among you might end up finding it too extreme, the no-holds-barred Islay drammers will love its oily mouthfeel, medical smokiness and extreme brininess.
Finish: Powerful, peaty and prolonged, the Kelpie takes a long dive through our oral cavity before it finally slides down our throat. It leaves behind notes of grapefruit, coffee, peppermint and – as was to be expected – more seasalt.
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Region: Scotland (Islay)
Alc. volume: 46%
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
Price range: ~109.00 Euro
More info: http://www.ardbeg.com/ (Distillery) ; https://www.spirituosen-wolf.de/ (Ardbeg Embassy)