Bought: Ardbeg Shop, 26th March 2017
94/100 – Whisky Bible 2018
86.37/100 – Whiskybase (average from 193 member votes)
Ardbeg Day is here, and so too is my blog post about the Kelpie Committee Release. This is the second year I’ve been a committee member and endured the 8am bun fight in March to secure a bottle. At least this time the Ardbeg website didn’t go into meltdown. The March release shares the same name as the June release but it’s a higher strength and much more limited in numbers. Each year the price creeps up by a few pounds. This year I paid £89 but it quickly sells out and bottles instantly start making between £130-£140 at auction. Use this knowledge for future releases to tell your partner it’s an investment 😉 but privately you know you’ll be drinking it.
Here is how the previous four ‘Ardbeg Day’ committee releases have faired on Whiskybase:
- Dark Cove (2016) – 87.94/100 from 273 votes
- Perpetuum (2015) – 86.72/100 from 234 votes
- Auriverdes (2014) – 85.7/100 from 616 votes
- Ardbog (2013) – 87.36/100 from 738 votes
After the success of the Dark Cove last year I’m not surprised that the rating for the Kelpie has dipped. With 86.37/100 it’s currently 4th out of the last 5 releases but that’s still an excellent score. Comments left on Whiskybase about the Kelpie include “rather clean and certainly not bad, but there is nothing exciting about it”, “solid whisky, with some unpolished but pleasant smells and flavours” and “a big and unapologetic Ardbeg”.
Here’s Great Drams on YouTube with their thoughts about the Ardbeg Kelpie (May 2017):
Bought: Ardbeg Online Shop, 17th March 2016
90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
87.98/100 – Whiskybase (average from 96 member votes)
88/100 – Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun.com
My first purchase from Ardbeg since becoming a committee member (which is free via their website) and I appear to have bagged a good one! When I bought the Perpetuum release last year and checked the ratings on Whiskybase against previous Islay festival releases it became apparent that the trend was downwards. Ardbog (2013) had scored less than Day (2012), Auriverdes (2014) had scored less than Ardbog, and Perpetuum (2015) had scored less than Auriverdes. The downward trend was rather worrying but Dark Cove has bounced back and ranks almost as highly as the Day.
Comments on Whiskybase include “a rather rich, spicy, oaky and maritime Ardbeg, intense, with some burnt wood but tasting also rather young.” And “an excellent nose and taste that this new Ardbeg is able to provide. Ardbeg proves that NAS can be brilliant and also so much different than the other bottles the last 5 years.”
90.5/100 in the Whisky Bible 2017 classifies this Ardbeg as “brilliant”. The 46% general release version of the Dark Cove scores a respectable 86/100. The author summaries the ‘Committee Release’ with “big sherry and bigger peat always struggle somewhere along the line. This one does pretty well until we reach the finale when it unravels slightly. But sulphur-free. And challenging.”
Here’s Maltman Mike with his review on You Tube (April 2016):
Bought: Ardbeg Shop, 15th July 2015
91.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
85.95/100 – Whiskybase (average from 445 member votes)
As I write this blog the Auriverdes is still available from the Ardbeg online shop for £79.99 (delivery inside UK only). That might seem a lot for a NAS (non aged statement) single malt until you consider that this is Ardbeg and the Auriverdes is their special release for the Islay festival day of 2014. The Whisky Vault is selling it for £120. The 2013 festival release, Ardbog, is selling for £150, so expect the Auriverdes to be hitting that price next year. If you’re reading this in 2016, or later, sorry! I started collecting whisky in 2013 so I know what it’s like to miss out on previous bottlings. I doubt I’ll be buying the Ardbeg ‘Day’ any time soon because the 2012 release now costs £270 at ‘Hard to Find Whisky’.
The Auriverdes is a new addition to the Whisky Bible 2015 and 91.5/100 classifies this single malt as “brilliant”. The author, Jim Murray, says of the taste “astonishingly light delivery: softer than any baby’s bottom and maltier, too. Indeed the gristy malt is unusually powerful for an Ardbeg but only because the smoke, which is definitely there, seems preoccupied with a massive surge of vanilla.” He gives the finish a fantastic 24/25 (i.e., 96/100) and summaries with “this version appears to be about the casks, possibly the char of the barrels” and “a real curiosity”.
Nearly 86/100 on Whiskybase is a good score but the Ardbog gets over 87/100 and the Day hits the heights of 88/100. You have to wonder if the festival releases are diminishing in quality or the novelty of them is wearing off. Nevertheless, comments for the Auriverdes are very favourable with voters saying “I really like it. The lack of punchy peat smoke really lets out the fruity side”, “this was a feast” and “well worth it.” One person recommends letting it breath in the glass for 20-30 minutes before drinking, which is always worth trying.
Posted in Ardbeg
Tagged 49.9%, 70cl, Ardbeg, Ardbeg Day, Ardbeg Shop, Auriverdes, Cask Strength, Fèis Ìle, Islay, NAS, Single Malt