Colour: Perpetuum is clearly the most pale of the three, while Dark
Cove (nomen est omen) is the darkest. Kelpie is closer to Perpetuum
than to Dark Cove, maybe just one or two shades darker.
Nose: While Perpetuum has the most Ardbeg trademark nose
(surprisingly) Dark Cove is rather shy but much sweeter (due to the dark
sherry casks) and Kelpie offers some strange aromas on eucalyptus and
camphor (that remind me a little bit of a cough medicine and
disinfectant solution). Interestingly I find the Perpetuum best and the
Kelpie by far the weakest in this head-to-head.
Arrival: Perpetuum comes big and mouth-coating while Dark Cove is
quite sweet, but a little bit hot at the first sip. Kelpie is a little
bit hot and peppery too and not as mouth-coating as the Perpetuum.
Again Perpetuum wins this round closely followed by Dark Cove. Kelpie
is not impressive.
Body: Perpetuum is based all around sweet and peaty flavours that
are not too complex, but somehow balanced. Dark Cove is due to the
sherry casks much sweeter, the peat is more in the background. Again it
is a little bit hot and peppery. Kelpie is all about this strange
eucalyptus/menthol flavour (maybe they should have named it "Koala"
instead) - if you love this, than it is probably very interesting
(Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor, who smoked menthol
cigarettes only would like this, probably). But I do not, I hate
menthol as it reminds me of bitter medicine... You guess my rating for
this round now, don't you?
Finish: The Perpetuum finish is very clean and long, typically
Ardbeggian. Dark Cove has a quite long but very sweet finish that is
somehow more one-dimensional than the Perpetuum. And the Kelpie: The
finish gets dry and bitter (due to the heavy tannins of the virgin oak),
I do not like such a profile. It is significantly shorter than the
other two as well, so again. Perpetuum first, Dark Cove second, Kelpie
I never ever thought (when Perpetuum was released) that this bottling
will win against its successors as I (like many others) had the
impression this was the weakest Ardbeg Day edition so far. But now I
must confess: This was the best (to my liking) in three years. Oh, oh Ardbeg - where are you going to...