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Ardbeg Supernova 2015 (SN2015)

Average score from 2 reviews and 2 ratings 95

Ardbeg Supernova 2015 (SN2015)

Product details

  • Brand: Ardbeg
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 54.3%

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@talexander
Ardbeg Supernova 2015 (SN2015)

The final edition of their Supernova series (the last one was released in 2010) celebrates the results of Bill Lumsden's launch of the whisky into space to study the effects of zero-gravity on maturation. On the website you will find a six-page white paper on the experiment, and the results (I had not the patience to sift through this). I find the marketing blather about this to be insufferable, though the detailed findings in the paper show that this experiment was taken quite seriously. How the results can be used in any constructive matter is anyone's guess. The malt is peated to 100ppm and bottled with no age statement. Note that this is the Committee Release, which will be slightly different than the standard release.

The colour is a light yellowish gold. On the nose we have light citrus, wet slate, brine, mint, fennel and sage. Fruity in the background, with strawberries-and-cream, green apple skins and, of course, a sooty peat smoke. Despite the high phenols, the nose is not overwhelmingly smoky. Hint of very milky chocolate. More herbal with water, though also toned down. Prickly, biting and endlessly complex.

The palate is full of lemon pith, sea salt, nori, chili pepper and a big burst of peat smoke. Chewy, yet also very oily. Tart underripe apple. Aniseed. A touch of balsamic. More sweetness than you would have expected. Water makes it more oily and really mouth-puckering. Extraordinary!

The finish is ashen with lemon curd, black pepper a light touch of fish oil. Without a doubt, this is one of the best Ardbegs you will ever have. Much has been written about how overrated recent special bottlings have been, and how the standard 10 Year Old has become inconsistent. Which is all true; but this particular bottling can stand side-by-side with the Ardbeg 1977 and many other older celebrated releases. It's scores and awards bear that out: 97 points from Jim Murray, Islay Scotch of the Year from Whisky Advocate and Best Scotch Islay (No Age Statement) from Whisky Magazine. Side-by-side with the current 10 Year Old - there is no contest. Find this bottle.

@Alexsweden, you're absolutely right - the text of my review implies that smoke is not the dominating factor. There is so much complexity due to the fruit, sweetness, herbs, etc, with the peat smoke anchoring it all in the background. Love them or not, Ardbegs to this day are always interesting, but I agree - the marketing is insufferable (as is the price point). FYI I paid $CDN239 for this bottle.

That'll fetch a nice price! Thanks for the review, I had read elsewhere that the smoke wasn't that dominant in this bottling. It's good to know that Ardbeg can still deliver, I just wish they would tone down the marketing a bit..

@MaltActivist

Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 54.3% | Colour: Sunshine Nose: 24 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 95

Review The Supernova series is, in my opinion, why one should start drinking whisky. It is also one of the reasons I have tolerated Ardbeg's nonsense of late. Because deep in my heart I, like all Ardbeg fans, know that hiding in those dank warehouses lie some stellar casks which, when expertly blended together, are going to set my soul alight.

And that is what the Supernova 2015 has done.

The fourth, and last, of the Supernova series this is quite possibly my favourite of the lot. The first one came out in 2009, then 2010, 2014 (which I had the pleasure of tasting at 9AM in the morning on a farm in Islay) and for the final time in 2015.

If you don't already know it's significance let me tell you real quick. In 2011 Ardbeg, with the help of a company known as NanoRacks, decided to send some new make and oak shavings inside a capsule into outer space to test what effects micro-gravity had on maturation. They kept an identical sample here on mother Earth and, once, the space sample returned Dr Lumsden released his findings on how the two samples differed.

Why would they do that, you ask me? Well, because they're attention whores, that's why. But not just any attention whores. Attention whores that can also create one hell of a whisky.

The 2015 version doesn't have much literature but I know it's a blend of ex-sherry and bourbon casks made from 100 PPM malted barley. There's no age statements but you know it's rather young. Which is fine as long as it tastes like this.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 54.3% ABV

**Nose: **Very soft peat. It's there but you have to fight for it. Touch of ash. More iodine and TCP in here compared to earlier 'Novas. Almost like a delicate eucalyptus. Touch of the standard Ardbeg coastal salt. Rock salt. But then the sweetness. The really nice rounded sweetness which envelopes the smokiness and the saltiness and almost makes you swoon. Milk chocolate. Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. Now there's fruits. Citrus fruits. Not sharp citrus. But a softer, sweeter citrus. Pineapples. Lime. Orange candy. Stick with it and the earthiness is next. You can almost taste the barley. The wild mushrooms. The Islay earth. This is an essay in balance. 24/25

**Palate: **That ashiness again. Soft peat. Sooty. Great delivery. The first palate is surprisingly savoury. I mean it's more savoury than I expected it to be. But then the sweetness breaks through mid-palate. Like sunshine. On an overcast day. Pineapples. That sweet citrus again. Lemon and lime. Touch of spice. White peppers. And in the midst of it all - some good quality oak. 24/25

**Finish: **Nice and long. Chewy. Oily. White pepper. Oak. 23/25

**Overall Comments: **Phew! What a ride. Absolutely loved it. Ran a head-2-head with this and the SN14 for a video review which made the differences and the balance really stand out. This is just a superb example of right cask selection to create something that will stand the test of time.

Rating: 95

What a great review, @MaltActivist! Sadly, I never got to try the 2014 edition but I absolutely loved SN 2015 when I tried it on Islay last October and still have a bottle at home for that very special occasion.

@Victor @Pierre_W @Alexsweden : yup great dram, this. Definitely less smoky than it's predecessors. Nicely rounded with some nice sweetness. Loved this one a lot.

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