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.
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..
@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.