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Ardbeg Supernova 2014 Committee Release

Average score from 3 reviews and 3 ratings 92

Ardbeg Supernova 2014 Committee Release

Product details

  • Brand: Ardbeg
  • ABV: 55.0%
  • Bottled: 2014

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Ardbeg Supernova 2014 Committee Release

The Supernova is one of the whiskies that made fall hook line and sinker in love with Ardbeg. Specifically the 2010 Release. I had just started drinking single malts and had a brief glimpse into the world of Islay peat monsters.

But there was really nothing that prepared me for the onslaught of smoke and peat that greeted me when I first dipped my nose in the glass. What the bloody hell is this sorcery? I'm certain I said out loud.

And there began my love affair with high strength, phenolic, smokey powerhouses. I managed to procure the increasingly rare 2009 but have yet to give it a go. I'm still waiting for the right moment to uncork that.

So it was lovely news when Ardbeg announced the 2014 release (or SN14 as it is known). After much waiting and haggling I managed to pick up a couple of bottles wanting to open them on a special day. And that day came in the form of my first trip to Islay for the Whisky Festival. So I decided to try it for the very first time on Ardbeg Day sitting by myself on a bench somewhere on a farm in Islay.

The setting could not have been better.

Bill Lumsden, head of distilling and whisky creation at Ardbeg, went through some of his peatiest whiskies in the warehouse and pulled out a mix of ex-bourbon and some ex-sherry to put this 2014 release together.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at a strength of 55%

Nose: Peat. Lots of smoke. Salt. Brine. That gorgeous Islay grist. Green grapes. Pomegranate. Some type of licorice. Melon rind. Guava. Cut grass. Mixed herbs. Garden peas. Black pepper. Bitter dark chocolate. A touch of cherries. This is, as promised, a smoky powerhouse on the nose. But thanks to the sherry influence has a touch of something sweet too.

Palate: Rolls over the palate nicely without causing any pain. By the way I'm drinking this at around 10AM in the morning and it's still going down smoothly. Lots of barley. Hint of oak. Smoke. White pepper. Greens. Melon. Mild sugarcane sweetness. Green lime. Tobacco. Brine. Linseed oil. Red chili chocolate. Deceptively smooth and balanced to drink.

Finish: Comes back up again to stay. Peat. Soot. Ash. Powerful.

This is a great study in balance. The 125ppm works wonderfully well with the sweet. The soot is complemented by the fruit. This is, not to put too fine a point on this, one of the great Ardbegs of late.

@Nozinan, I think what @MaltActivist means is that he has a very different mindset when he tastes a whisky for reviewing purposes and when he drinks it "for the sheer pleasure." In other words, just to pour a dram and enjoy it in the moment without dissecting the nose, palate, and finish, etc.

For myself, I find both types of tasting immensely important. I love to spend a few hours analyzing a particular whisky; dissecting all the nuances I can plumb from its liquid depths. But that is extremely heady and intellectual.

Sometimes I just want to savor the aesthetic experience for the "pleasure" of a good dram. And for me that means without taking notes.

I find that one tasting can help the appreciation of the other.

@MaltActivist, thanks for the wonderful review. I have a bottle I am saving for my Anniversary. I opened SN2010 on my wedding night with my beautiful wife. Supernova holds a special place in my heart. I was a bit worried about this release as reviews have been a little mixed. I am glad you enjoyed it and look forward to comparing notes soon.

As an aside, the Supernova 2009 is one of my favorite whiskies ever. Open it on a special occasion that calls for dark, deep peat. Obviously, that was not a universally beloved whisky (and received a lot of criticism). Personally, I think Jim Murray was spot on with his review.

I still have a few samples bottles left of the 2009 and 2010 releases. I am looking forward to head-to-head one day.

@MaltActivist, super review, super whisky.

You, @Nock, and I are the "type" who really love this sort of whisky. Supernova and Octomore are my idea of peated whiskies. The only sample I've tasted of SN2009 was from @Nock, but the sample was already 6 years old, and you could tell that much of the glorious edge had already been subdued. The 2010 I have also repeatedly rhapsodized over, particularly because, like my very good friend @Nock, it represents a milestone for me with my wife. SN2010 was THE peated smokey whisky which won my wife over to liking peaty smokey whisky.

At this point I am sitting on about 1/3 bottle of SN2010 and two unopened bottles of SN2014.

Save that SN2009 for a very special occasion, Tabarak, hopefully one at which both @Nock and I are present. It would be nice if @Pierre_W were present also.


Off late Ardbeg has often been accused by fans and critics alike for coming out with somewhat below par expressions or lets just say expressions that are not up to the level of those that made it a legendary name in the whisky world. That is why when the new Supernova was announced there was an air of skepticism about what this one had to offer. Well, I've had my dram and I am certainly delighted with the outcome.

Nose: Extremely complex with several layers. Beginning with Oranges, Bananas, Iodine..now that's a rather unique combination!.. There is also sugar cane like sweetness..dried coconut peels, raisins, some woody notes.. and finally the famous peat that comes through.. it doesn't stop there.. oxidization bring out candy like sweetness too.

Since this dram had so much to offer already I thought of letting it breathe a bit longer and it definitely didn't disappoint. This time there was vanilla, cardamom, lemon sorbet, caramel and mint that could all be found.

Palate: A pleasant mix of heavy fruity sweetness and lots of black pepper making for a real power packed punch. It would be hard for me to pin point which fruits made their presence though.. however I'm not complaining one bit. I can say I also got some charcoal and dark chocolate towards the end.

Finish: Once again had lots to offer.. the peat ultimately made the headlines here .. there was also wood .. with some berries.. albeit not the sweet ones and some herbs in there. This left a strong and lasting impression that kept me salivating for fairly long.

With this expression Ardbeg has once again proved that even today it can deliver a masterpiece to compete with some of its hits from yesteryear.

@TrailingTheMalt, thanks for your very nice review. Watch your bottle as it takes on air. The Supernova 2010 was great to start, but it just also got continuously better and better over two years of air time. And Supernova 2010 was the whisky which won my wife over to the heavily peated/smokey style.

I'm glad to hear that Ardbeg didn't blow Supernova 3.0. I haven't opened up my bottle(s) of 3.0 yet. As for 1.0 and 2.0, in my book, if you doubted them, that just means that you haven't tried them.

I yawned when I read about Auriverdes, but I lined up well in advance for the Supernova 2014.

Expensive? Yes. But these Supernovas are something special.

@Victor..thank you for the comments as always.. well firstly I guess i better try giving my wife some of the new SN and see if that wins her over.. :) secondly as for giving it some time to air.. I'd be curious to try that out.. i noticed that happen with some of my Springbank's too... that got a lot better over time. The Supernova's are truly special and in this case even though the SN 2014 is different from it predecessors.. its still special.. will look forward to hearing from you once you've cracked up your bottle.. :)


I'm writing my review of a most DELICIOUS RARE whisky on the eve of a very auspicious event in indeed, which very well might affect the future creation & distribution of my very favorite beverage: namely SCOTCH!

Here are my tasting notes on the latest Supernova:

Nose: Burning driftwood fire, citrus fruits, black Jamaican coffee, lemon rind, vanilla bean, Pine Sol cleaner, All Spice, lovely oily industrial overtones that cannot be done justice by metaphors. An acquired taste, to be sure, that is so abundantly present in this superb bottling.

Palate: Oh that Ardbeg peat! It's hauntingly pungent in the best of ways. Along with this, I get Chinese pepper, wet moss, pine needles, espresso, iodine, cashews, wint-o-mint, dark chocolate (over 85% cacao), smoky roasted hot chilies, and a return of the tar-like fury of Ardbegian peatessence. Oh lordy, I'm in heaven now!

Finish: Ferry boat pylons and seawater, creosote, thick juicy back bacon cooked to a crisp on an iron skillet, smoky pipe with natural tobacco, fennel, very pleasant lingering mouth feel that stays and stays. I love the way the meatiness comes out in the finish. Brilliant that!

Speaking of food for thought, a few weeks ago, I very much enjoyed hearing Ralfy's commentary on the subject of Scottish independence.

As for David Bowie's comment, "Scotland Stay with Us," which was read by Kate Moss at the Brit Awards, well . . . I wasn't at all surprised to hear his point of view. After all, Ziggy Stardust, Bowie, et al, has worked all his professional life on behalf of cultural programmers that hail from Orwell's infamous Oceania. Half a century's worth of propaganda and also brilliant song writing from David Jones's "British invasion" certainly extended and still extend into the whole wide world, picking up speed in most of the English speaking nations.

I've sometimes wondered how many songs Bowie actually wrote himself. A charmed life that man's led. In me mind's eye, I picture a cadre of government shrinks and behavioralists, along with a bevy of talented subcontracted song writers, helping to create Bowie's psychologically primed lexicon, as well as his musical cannon.

As for Kate Moss, I sat next to her in the early 90's at Max Fish, an East Village bar in New York City. She looked bedraggled at the time, hardly runway material. I didn't say a word to her but it was somewhat eerie and also thrilling to see her up close for the length of time it took to drink my beer.

Moss was going through a rough patch then, if the tabloids are to be believed, and I was quite impressed that she would sit in the middle of a bar filled with NYC bohemians, some of whom were outright animals capable of nearly anything. Then again, NYC was known then for leaving celebrities alone to a surprising extent. I'm sure Moss's look was partly a disguise to keep her from being recognized. Nobody that I could see was talking to her. She drank alone in a bar packed with people, which was not only brave for a celebrity of her stature but also quite sexy in a shabby chic way.

Actually, Kate Moss looked much better at the Brit awards just recently. She has aged very well indeed, as has Bowie, who was born in 1947, a few years after me dear old dad.

Bowie walked in front of me with his entourage at a Cycle Sluts from Hell concert, also in early 90's. I recognized the silhouette of his profile instantly. When I told me friends that Bowie had parted the sea of leather babies and sweaty one-generation-too-late punk wannabees nobody believed me until rumor spread about twenty minutes later that he was seated in a special balcony above us along with his entourage.

In all fairness, Bowie's music was a huge influence on my musical tastes, not in my teens, but rather in my early 20's, weirdly enough, when his sound enjoyed a resurgence that went along well with the emo side of grudge. Bowie is a masterful performer, as is Mick Jagger. Both of them are quite convincing as artists cum propagandists. Very powerfully believable, much to their credit, even right down to Bowie's latest comment at the Brit awards, which most likely was not even penned by Bowie himself, but who cares after all? The quote sounded so touchingly heart felt!

As Ralfy so aptly pointed out, Scotland is one of the few countries that discovered huge quantities of oil off its shores and then became poorer.

The other country of note? Haiti. After oil was discovered there off the shores of this island nation, one disaster after another struck, not least of which was the spread of cholera imported by disaster aid nonprofits. I'm sure that was totally an accident. Ironically, and tragically, the cholera epidemic killed far more people than the earthquake. Let's hope some sort of weird and untimely disaster does not befall Scotland if the people vote for independence. These things have a way of accidentally happening whenever billions upon billions upon billions of pounds are at stake. . . .

Speaking of cold hard cash, if you can find a bottle of Ardbeg 2014 Supernova, BUY IT. Yes, it's a bit overpriced, but it's worth ever last ha'penny, not to mention each pound!

And even if you hate Ardbegs the blessed green bottle is already a collector's item. Me? I opened mine, and I don't regret the decision. Not one little bit. My plan is to drink it faster rather than slower. And now I shall experiment with water, a few drops of which are most welcome in this 110 proof glass of Orc-like rebelliousness: "Fiery the angels rose and as they rose deep thunder rolled around their shores, indignant, burning with the fires of Ardbeg Supernova."

As for Scotland, "To be free or not to be free, that is the question." Then again, who's really free these days in the era of all things global? You'd have to live in a cave to be free, living off highland peat water and sun-warmed meadow muffins? Well, I for one would vote "yes," but nobody cares much about the opinion of a Yank when it comes to Scottish independence.

And now, time for another hit of the Supernova. Glug, glug, glug! Actually, I was fairly lit, thanks to the brilliance of Ardbeg's latest (albeit limited) offering, when I penned this whisky review. My apologies. Never drink too much as you type about what to drink. It's something of an oxymoron. I just can't seem to stop drinking the blessed stuff that is Ardbeg. . . . one more sip and I shall be speechless

I found it considerably more complex than the ten, but I didn't compare it side by side. In fact, the last time I tasted a ten was at Ardbeg Day 2014 when I compared the Auriverdes to the Uigeadail and the ten. I liked the Supernova a lot, but I suspect it wasn't the tour de force of the original Supernova. I have no way of knowing however because I never tasted the original back in the day.

This said, I don't plan on opening my last bottle of Supernova unless Ardbeg starts coming out with them regularly, which, actually would bum me out. Why? Because I paid the steep price of a rare collectible on both bottles not some regular issue. For its age, I think the Supernova was way overpriced. The original was much more reasonably priced. Frankly, I will be pissed off if Ardbeg makes a regular thing out of Supernova, even though I have a Committee Bottling that nearly cost me $200 and regular issue bottles would probably not be labeled Committee unless Ardbeg really gets greedy and sells out its Committee members.

As for Scotland being free enough to collect its own taxes on oil revenue and whisky revenue, I see that won't be happening any time soon, unless the banker/rulers of the UK figure out a new scam to make independence seem grand in Scotland, Northern Ireland, etc. It's certainly possible. After all, the British/Venetian/Khazarian Empire of the East India Tea Company days (when the allies of the wars in the 1700's were listed as this company and the enemies were whole countries like France, Spain, Prussia, etc.) learned how to delegate the bulk of the cost of maintaining an empire through clever consolidation even while on the surface colonies were allowed to claim their "freedom." Most Americans would be shocked to learn how the NYSE is actually run by English banks. Jon Stewart's brother Larry is the go-to buy for that little scam.

As for Scottish Independence, hey, it's possible one day: Goldman Sachs and the major (English) banking interests behind the "American Curtain of Oz" did it with so-called green energy. After polluting the crap out of the world for centuries, these covert rulers convinced the public that they were all about saving the world from climate change. I never cease to be amazed at how psychopathic the core power structure of the planet truly is, and how utterly gullible the bulk of the population is (those that have enough time, in between school-work-sports-biological reproduction, to actually give some thought to the who, what, when, where, and why of life.

Here's the latest scoop from the UK Bluffington Post: huffingtonpost.co.uk/alan/….

And here's a taste of Matt Taibbi's legendary Rolling Stone article called The Great American Bubble Machine (the same principles apply to the UK): BUBBLE #6 Global Warming

Rewind to the year 2009: It's early June in Washington, D.C. Barack Obama, a popular young politician whose leading private campaign donor was an investment bank called Goldman Sachs — its employees paid some $981,000 to his campaign — sits in the White House. Having seamlessly navigated the political minefield of the bailout era, Goldman is once again back to its old business, scouting out loopholes in a new government-created market with the aid of a new set of alumni occupying key government jobs.

Gone are Hank Paulson and Neel Kashkari; in their place are Treasury chief of staff Mark Patterson and CFTC chief Gary Gensler, both former Goldmanites. (Gensler was the firm's co-head of finance.) And instead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits — a booming trillion dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that it gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an "environmental plan," called cap-and-trade.

The new carbon credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that's been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won't even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.

Here's how it works: If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural-gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allotment, they will be able to buy "allocations" or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions. President Obama conservatively estimates that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years; one of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.

The feature of this plan that has special appeal to speculators is that the "cap" on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. Which means that this is a brand new commodities market where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time. The volume of this new market will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually; for comparison's sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the U.S. total $320 billion.

Goldman wants this bill. The plan is (1) to get in on the ground floor of paradigm-shifting legislation, (2) make sure that they're the profit-making slice of that paradigm and (3) make sure the slice is a big slice. Goldman started pushing hard for cap-and-trade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues. (One of their lobbyists at the time was none other than Patterson, now Treasury chief of staff.)

Back in 2005, when Hank Paulson was chief of Goldman, he personally helped author the bank's environmental policy, a document that contains some surprising elements for a firm that in all other areas has been consistently opposed to any sort of government regulation. Paulson's report argued that "voluntary action alone cannot solve the climate change problem." A few years later, the bank's carbon chief, Ken Newcombe, insisted that cap-and-trade alone won't be enough to fix the climate problem and called for further public investments in research and development. Which is convenient, considering that Goldman made early investments in wind power (it bought a subsidiary called Horizon Wind Energy), renewable diesel (it is an investor in a firm called Changing World Technologies) and solar power (it partnered with BP Solar), exactly the kind of deals that will prosper if the government forces energy producers to use cleaner energy. As Paulson said at the time, "We're not making those investments to lose money."

The bank owns a 10 percent stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange, where the carbon credits will be traded. Moreover, Goldman owns a minority stake in Blue Source LLC, a Utah-based firm that sells carbon credits of the type that will be in great demand if the bill passes. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, who is intimately involved with the planning of cap-and-trade, started up a company called Generation Investment Management with three former bigwigs from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, David Blood, Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris. Their business? Investing in carbon offsets. There's also a $500 million Green Growth Fund set up by a Goldmanite to invest in green-tech … the list goes on and on. Goldman is ahead of the headlines again, just waiting for someone to make it rain in the right spot. Will this market be bigger than the energy futures market?

"Oh, it'll dwarf it," says a former staffer on the House energy committee.

Well, you might say, who cares? If cap-and-trade succeeds, won't we all be saved from the catastrophe of global warming? Maybe — but cap-and-trade, as envisioned by Goldman, is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues. Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private tax collection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it's even collected.

"If it's going to be a tax, I would prefer that Washington set the tax and collect it," says Michael Masters, the hedge fund director who spoke out against oil futures speculation. "But we're saying that Wall Street can set the tax, and Wall Street can collect the tax. That's the last thing in the world I want. It's just asinine."

Cap-and-trade is going to happen. Or, if it doesn't, something like it will. The moral is the same as for all the other bubbles that Goldman helped create, from 1929 to 2009. In almost every case, the very same bank that behaved recklessly for years, weighing down the system with toxic loans and predatory debt, and accomplishing nothing but massive bonuses for a few bosses, has been rewarded with mountains of virtually free money and government guarantees — while the actual victims in this mess, ordinary taxpayers, are the ones paying for it.

It's not always easy to accept the reality of what we now routinely allow these people to get away with; there's a kind of collective denial that kicks in when a country goes through what America has gone through lately, when a people lose as much prestige and status as we have in the past few years. You can't really register the fact that you're no longer a citizen of a thriving first-world democracy, that you're no longer above getting robbed in broad daylight, because like an amputee, you can still sort of feel things that are no longer there.

But this is it. This is the world we live in now. And in this world, some of us have to play by the rules, while others get a note from the principal excusing them from homework till the end of time, plus 10 billion free dollars in a paper bag to buy lunch. It's a gangster state, running on gangster economics, and even prices can't be trusted anymore; there are hidden taxes in every buck you pay. And maybe we can't stop it, but we should at least know where it's all going.

This is definitely not "full gold" as the notes from Ardbeg say. More of a pale straw similar to the Ten, like you suggest. Most definitely an Ardbeg product, but also quite different from the three standard bottlings. Also changes both in nose and palate with water and time, although the citric (lemons), spice, and ash continue (in that exact order), the effect becomes more creamy and rounder. Although I don't have a bottle on hand to compare, it seems similar to the Ten, but more intense. I'll have to pick up a Ten to do a HTH.

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