Citing unnamed, anonymous intelligence sources, CNN and NBC News are reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the use of Russian Oak casks in the new Ardbeg Kelpie and "sought to influence" the Ardbeg Selection Committee into choosing it.
This follows reports from the Huffington Post that former FBI Director James Comey "felt pressured" into dropping his investigation into a possible Russian connection with Moscow Mules and Stolichnaya Vodka, which the Associated Press believes may have been served at a Trump victory party in 2016 attended by Gen. Michael Flynn, where he allegedly broke ethics rules by mixing Pappy Van Winkle with Diet Sprite.
Last week, The New York Times cited anonymous officials who stated that Russian hackers recently infiltrated the venerated "RecentEats" blog and falsely retired it, going so far as to forge a farewell letter and change the login password, preventing rightful owner Sku from posting his latest reviews of the peated bubble tea at "Mr. Boba" in LA's Koreatown and a cask-strength Croatian grappa.
Activist whisky revolutionary Chaiman M.A.O., author of the MyAloofOpinions blog, wasted no time calling for Trump's imprisonment, declaring that, "This is far greater than Watergate, it's Whiskygate. The only solution is to tax the rich and declare universal whisky for all, free of charge, distilled and provided by the federal government. Only then can we end the colonialist yoke of 'privatized' spirits sales."
Publisher John Hansellout of WhiskyAdvertiser released a written statement: "While I have no opinion on this matter, I'd like to announce that Kelpie is our 'Best Whisky of the Summer' with a stunning 97 point score! In the same issue, you can find out new 40 page advertising spread from LVMH detailing their incredible portfolio of brands!"
Author and whisky historian Fred Muppet joined the chorus of glowing reviews: "I'm giving Kelpie a 95 score, but then again, my scoring system is between 90-100 points. I'd also like to alert you to my new book, 'Russia Curious: The Indispensable Guide to Profiting From Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Kelpie.'"
Whiskey critic "The Krab" of the "Diving for Plankton" blog declined formal comment, telling reporters, "I can't judge this story until it's diluted down to 46%, and then 40%. And even then, I'll have a different opinion on every version."
In an effort to quell the controversy, Chris Numbskull of Drinkslacker poured cold water on the news and denied that his endless stream of free samples have any Russian connection: "Kelpie is an 'A' whisky, the same score I give to 90% of the whiskeys sent to me by my sponsors, regardless of their country of origin."
Similarly, the WhiskyHeretics, a Facebook group known for mixing high-end whiskeys with low-end soft drinks, defended Flynn's use of soda. "We mix 1975 Ardbeg with lighter fluid and 1968 Macallan with goat urine. The whole point of whisky is to have fun! If Putin wants to hang out, we'll blend Russian Standard with Similac and party all night!"
The controversy is already leading to surging prices for Kelpie on Facebook groups like Phil's 9th Circle of Hell and Bong Water Trading, with flippers rushing to upload their post-purchase "crotch shots." One typical post stated: "Controversy bottle! How much is this worth? Will someone trade an Old Rip Van Winkle 25 year for it? Can do this 75x more times if anyone is interested."