Ardbeg Kelpie

My daughter is studying Brazilian folklore at school.  Yesterday, she came to tell me that her favourite folk character is the (one-legged) little menace, Saci Perere.  It makes sense, since she doesn’t sit still and can be quite a little rascal.  Then she asked me who my favourite was, and in order not to give an uninteresting, generic answer and also to teach her something new, I decided to do some research.  I ran straight to Google.

Isn’t our folklore rich!?  As well as the pink dolphin, Curupira (a dwarf-like little man, whose feet are turned backwards), werewolf, mule and Saci, there are a plethora of fantastic creatures I never could have imagined existed.  One of them is Pisadeira, who (as her name in Portuguese implies) is an old woman who steps on people’s tummies while they sleep and causes shortness of breath.  She does this especially when people eat too much at night.  I think Pisadeira had her work cut for her with me when I was a kid.

But it’s not only Brazil that has folkloric creatures of course.  All countries have them and Scotland is no exception.  There, one of the best known is the Kelpie.  The Kelpie is a spirit that changes shape and lives in the Scottish lakes.  Usually, it takes the shape of a horse but it can be a person too, to lure people to the waters.  It is the Scottish equivalent of the pink dolphin, but a little less selective, as (rather than only girls) anyone will do.

It was this legend that gave rise to the new limited edition of Ardberg, named after the demonic equine – Ardberg Kelpie.  This suggests a strong maritime and saline influence.  It was released in two versions to commemorate Ardberg Day of 2017.  One contained 46 percent alcohol and the other, exclusive to the Ardberg Committee, 51.7 percent.

Ardbeg Kelpie is matured in Virgin Black Sea oak casks.  According to press material, Bill Lumsden, Director of the Distillery and Ardberg stock, “in his continuing search for intriguing casks, was inspired by the depth of flavour imparted by the Black Sea casks. Grown and seasoned in the Adyghe Republic, which leads down to the Black Sea coast, these casks impart incredibly deep flavours.”  Whatever the Adyghe Republic and deep may mean…

It exists!

According to the distillery, “Its powerful aromas of oily peat, salty seaweed and tarry rope have been produced by virgin oak casks from the Black Sea, intermingled with the hallmark Ardberg flavour.  Waves of spicy black pepper give way to a delectable tide of bacon and dark chocolate.  Incredibly deep.”  That intriguing ‘depth’ once again.

This Dog had the opportunity to sample Ardbeg Kelpie on his visit to the distillery in August 2017.  Although he had no idea what Ardberg called deep, he found the whisky very interesting.  Kelpie has a very pronounced saline note, which marries perfectly with the peaty, citrus character of the distillery.  That might be why the distillery advertises it as deep.

You must have already guessed that this mythological creature will not be marketed in Brazil.  Despite the recent launches and even expansion of the distillery’s permanent portfolio with Ardberg An Oa, nothing will change.  Here in our tropical country, the only expression from the distillery available remains the Ardberg Ten.  It’s a pity.  Perhaps LVMH, which owns the distillery, prefers to focus on products with lower added value, such as Proseccos, to meet the repressed demands of a demanding, but nonetheless niche, market.

However, if you do come across this water horse, you have to try it.  It really has a legendary flavour.  Oh, by the way, my favourite mythical creature from Brazilian folklore is the fire serpent, Boitatá.  But this – like that alleged ‘deep’ taste – is neither here nor there.


Tipo: Single, no age statement (NAS)

Distillery: Ardbeg

Region: Islay

ABV: 46%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: peated, with seaweed and a certain subliminal herbal scent.

Flavour: peated, with charcoal, white pepper and sweet caramel.  The finish is almost reminiscent of barbecued meat.  It’s interesting that the taste is not as herbal ad the aroma.

Availability: only international shops.


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