Ardbeg has released some details about this year’s Ardbeg Day release: a special bottle sold each year to celebrate the heritage of the Scottish single malt with the highest peat levels in the industry.
“Kelpie” sounds like a cartoon character dreamed up to make seaweed more palatable to children, and yet the real history behind the name is much darker. A kelpie is, according to Scottish legend, a water demon that sometimes takes the form of a horse or bull and occasionally drags humans back into the ocean, or worse.
It’s a nice name for a smoky-sweet whisky like Ardbeg, and particularly for a limited release that has darker origins. Kelpie’s claim to fame is that it’s the first Ardbeg matured in rare Black Sea oak casks that impart richer flavor, according to the folks at Ardbeg.
That special-matured whisky is then married with traditional ex-bourbon barrel–aged Ardbeg for something with a lot of dimension. We found Kelpie to have tons of smoke and sweetness, a hint of salt from years by the sea, and a surprising dark chocolate character. Ardbeg has always been good at keeping their peat from overwhelming the rest of the whisky, and this is another great example of smoke that doesn’t dominate.
We haven’t been provided any information about age or number of bottles (the proof point is set at 92) and the price is yet unconfirmed. Most of that information comes out closer to, or on, Ardbeg Day, which is not until June 3.
Getting your hands on a bottle of Kelpie will be difficult, but there is one way to tilt the odds in your favor: Anyone who joins the Ardbeg Committee tends to get a leg up on the competition whenever there are new products to be found.
Without a price point, we can’t tell you whether this one is worth the money, but we can say that we’ll be monitoring the situation very closely.