Ardbeg Supernova 2014
Ardbeg Supernova 2014, NAS, 55 %
Back in 2009 and 2010, Ardbeg entered the über-peated whisky race with Bruichladdich. Ardbeg released their Supernovas, with phenol levels at around 100 ppm, while Bruicladdich released their Octomores with up to 169 ppm. It's a bit silly with a 'race' like this, of course, but I guess it works well in Marketing. The focus should be on the liquid itself for us, the consumers.
I have tried the two old Supernovas, and thought they were fine - nothing more, nothing less. They have since reached near legendary status among the fans, mainly due to the limited supply and the high phenol level.
Then after 2010 the Supernova was gone, until the distillery announced the release of Ardbeg Supernova 2014. The release was timed perfectly to coincide with the return of the drops of Ardbeg that have circled the Earth on the International Space Station for the past couple of years. These drops will of course not be found in the Ardbeg Supernova 2014, or any other whisky for that matter. This sample was part of an experiment to see how zero gravity affects alcoholic liquid like Ardbeg. It certainly is a great story for a release of a new whisky though. The Marketing Department must have been ecstatic.
There is not too much detail to be found on this whisky, other than the ABV of 55 %. We do know the whisky has been matured in bourbon barrels and sherry casks, and that the share of sherry is a bit higher now than in previous Supernovas.
This is again a limited edition. I do not know the exact number of bottles in total, but 1262 bottles came on sale in Sweden on September 18, at a price of SEK 1499. These bottles sold out online in less than 2 seconds! The Swedes certainly do like their peated whisky, and especially limited editions from Islay.
You might still be able to find the Ardbeg Supernova 2014 online, but you have to look long and hard, I think. It is starting to appear on auctions at a significantly higher price already though.
Nose (22/25): Sweet and creamy peat smoke. There is definitely a lot of influence from the bourbon casks on the nose. Lots of vanilla, and as I mentioned a creamy feel. Warm ashes, and a salty, sandy beach also come to mind. After a while I detect soot, burnt wood, dark chocolate, and citrus notes (primarily lime).
Taste (22/25): Again creamy and rich. Definitely peaty, smoky and sooty. The smoke is on the dry side. A massive spice wave hits immediately; pepper and chili. Warm. Then something herbal comes along for the ride.
Finish (22/25): The sweetness hits mainly on the finish, but is equally massive; dark chocolate and chocolate mousse dominates. Then towards the end it becomes lighter and the citrus is back. This is a lingering whisky, with a long and soft landing.
Balance (22/25): An exciting whisky that I will never own. I was not fast enough to buy it when it was released, and I am not rich enough to buy it at the auction prices. I am happy to have tried it, though.
Sláinte! - Thomas