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For a while, I've been lurking around this site and reading many of the excellent reviews posted. For quite a bit of that time, I've been meaning to start posting reviews myself, but I've never gotten around to it until now - think of it as a new year's resolution of sorts. And what better way of starting the new year than opening a bottle that's been sitting around for too long now? The choice fell on the 2010 version of the Ardbeg Supernova...
At a glance: Very pale in colour, appears weighty and oily.
Nose: As many reviewers have noted, the first thing that strikes you isn't really the expected peat explosion, but the lack of this very explosion. The peat is definitely there (phwoar!), but it's very well integrated - it feels round and creamy amidst notes of earth, black pepper, coffee beans, tobacco and apple. Sooty citrus soon announces its arrival and is soon followed by sweeter barbecue notes and a smoky salty sensation (think salted, smoked sausage - or Lagavulin). More marine allusions like tar and seaweed appear in the tail end. It's a very inviting nose, almost along the lines of Ardbeg 10, but with more sass and moxy.
With water: Chlorine and more peppery notes appear.
Palate: First a sip at the full 60.1 % (!) For the first second you're fooled into thinking it's a very mild and oily dram, but you're in for a surprise.... In the mouth it quickly becomes very dry, as it starts to nudge you with playful embers. These embers soon burst into fire, and it burns, burns, burns - not the alcohol burn you'll get from many whiskies; more like chili peppers set aflame. As soon as the fire starts to fade away, it becomes creamy (here I'm thinking of the 'ice cream' sensation found eg. in Airigh Nam Beist) and sooty, whilst shy fruity tones of apple and elderflower come into place. Meanwhile, the embers move to the stomach (it'll warm you throughout the night) and the taste becomes very hospitable indeed.
A quick nosing after the sip reveals some butterscotch and hazelnuts. Interesting stuff...
Palate with water: The beastliness is toned down quite a bit, and it falls sort of flat. The finish becomes creamier, however. Drink this neat - it'll put hair on your chest (and sear them off again).
Finish: One of my favourite things about peated whiskies is the charcoal and soot that you'll taste in many of them - and here these very things linger on and on with bitter coffee in the background.
"HOW to kéep—is there ány any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, láce, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, … from vanishing away?"
And indeed: here it is. If you have the money.
I'm not a big fan of giving whiskies scores, but 95 sounds about right. The 2009 version is still unopened on the shelf, and now it'll be difficult not to open that... Beautiful.
Happy new year!