Tag Archives: Committee Release

Ardbeg ‘Kelpie’ Committee Release

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):


Ardbeg ‘Dark Cove’ Committee Release

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):

Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release NAS 70cl

Ardbeg Supernova 2015 Committee Release

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 11th March 2016

97/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
89.2/100 – Whiskybase (average from 117 member votes)
95/100 – Whisky Bitch (her YouTube video below)

I didn’t join the Ardbeg committee (which is free via their website) until after the Supernova 2015 came out so sadly I had to pay a bit more for this bottle at auction. Not only is this meant to be the 5th and final release of the legendary Supernova but according to reviews on Whiskybase, this is the best version of the 5. It’s also a ‘must try’ whisky for anyone who wants to experience all that’s great in the world of peated single malts. If the Macallan 18yo is the Rolls Royce of whisky then the Ardbeg Supernova is the Hummer limousine – big, beefy and adds a touch of luxury to any night.

The first release of Supernova came out in 2008 but Jim Murray didn’t start his Whisky Bible reviews until the second version appeared in 2009. His scores in release order are:

  • 97/100 – 2nd Supernova (2009)
  • 93.5/100 – 3rd Supernova (2010)
  • 96.5/100 – 4th Supernova (2014)
  • 97/100 – 5th Supernova (2015)

So the 2nd and 5th rank the same in Mr Murray’s opinion, which classifies them as “superstar whiskies that give us all a reason to live”. He says of the 2015’s taste, “a consuming delivery: frisky, smoky, sugary, ashy, playful, stern…and naturally, as Ardbeg will, amid all the enormity, comes the counterpoint of delicate citrus.” And summarises with, “in many ways an essay in balance. This is a huge beast of a malt with seemingly insurmountable peat…until it encourages, then allows you to climb up its back. Magnificent.”

Scores on Whiskybase put the 5 versions of Supernova in the following order of brilliance:

  • 89.2/100 – 5th Supernova (2015)
  • 89.1/100 – 3rd Supernova (2010)
  • 88.9/100 – 1st Supernova (2008)
  • 88.7/100 – 2nd Supernova (2009)
  • 88.5/100 – 4th Supernova (2014)

Here’s the Whisky Bitch’s review from April 2016:

Ardbeg Supernova 2015 Committee Release NAS 75cl