Bottoms Up — June 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Whisky, a Hudson Cruise and a Water Spirit: Just Another Sunday in New York

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DSCF4456If you happened to set sail on the Hudson on a Sunday in June—or had some really good binoculars—you weren’t hallucinating if you saw a strange sight: the figure of a man-like creature, bedecked in seaweed hopping off a speed boat and onto a Circle Line-esque tourist boat. It was the Ardbeg Kelpie in living, breathing form.

What’s Ardbeg? That’s easy: It’s a Scotch whisky that’s been produced for 200 years on the remote Scottish Isle of Islay in the Inner Hebrides. What’s a Kelpie? That’s a little harder to explain, but essentially it’s the shape-shifting water spirit of Scottish lore that’s said to inhabit lochs and open water throughout the Celtic nation.

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So what was one doing here, in New York, on the Hudson? Sunday, June 4th, was Ardbeg Day and Ardbeg whisky set sail for the ultimate brunch at sea, or, um, river, hosted by Brendan McCarron, the director of whisky stocks (and winner of most awesome job title ever).

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Participants boarded a boat at Hudson’s Pier 81 and were treated to brunch food and Ardbeg bloody Marys, replete with a bloody Mary topping bar, which included lobster tails and whole shrimp to top your drink. There was a seafood bar, too, with clams and shrimp cocktail, while an oyster shucker made the rounds. There was a more traditional bar on the top deck, serving up frozen Ardbeg cocktails (a little strange to associate the smokiness of the peaty whisky with fruity slush, but the bitterness and sweetness somehow worked, in the same way Campari somehow works).

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The day’s events culminated in the moment the aforementioned speed boat arrived with a (spoiler alert) man dressed up as a Kelpie and McCarron did a little speech, encouraging everyone to partake in an exclusive tasting of the high-end Ardbeg Kelpie, a limited edition variety with strong smoky notes, thanks to the virgin oak casks from the Black Sea that are used to produce it.

While it may not have been Scotland, and we may not have technically been at sea (though New York Harbor gets pretty darn close), we were all a little transported to those celtic islands that Ardbeg calls home for the four-hour tour—and we all felt a little like honorary Kelpies, minus the seaweed suit.

Twisted Talk: Do you have a favorite whisky? Have you been on a Hudson River booze cruise? Discuss below!

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