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Ardbeg Supernova

Luxurious, powerful but surprisingly complex peat monster

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@jdcookReview by @jdcook

20th Oct 2009


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The nose is gentler than you would expect from something labelled 'the peatiest Ardbeg ever!' Sure, the peat and smoke is the dominant feature, and its very meaty, but there is a freshness there as well, like recently cut green grass. A hint of spice to keep you interested with perhaps a just the tiniest smidge of toffee. Much more intriguing than I was expecting.

The body is thick and warm, almost luxurious, but overwhelms all parts of the mouth. The taste is spicy and grassy fresh before the smoke and peat rise gently until for a few seconds, that is all you can discern. Then it fades into a warm peppery, peat-filled gravy. Leaves you on a peat high - after drinking this, I taste peat in everything for at least a couple of hours.

The finish is long and warm, initially its spicy enough to leave your tongue tingling, but the spice fades, leaving the peat and the grassy sweetness dominating for several minutes.

While this isn't my favourite Ardbeg, I do enjoy it a lot. Not sure if it is worth the money, but while this reputed shortage of good single malt barrels (that I keep reading about) from a number of distilleries from the late 70s and 80s (which would be the premium malts now) continues, we will see more of these special bottlings from quite a few distilleries over probably the next 10 years or so. Mind you, I'm no expert , so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

On another note, while this is a very peaty whisky, don't be put off by the 'peatiest Ardbeg ever' talk - it isn't much heavier than most Laphroig's or Lagavulins. The business about 100 parts per million of phenol made me think it would be ~way~ peatier than the 50 ppm in the standard Ardbeg, but it certainly isn't twice as peaty. Perhaps there are diminishing returns in terms of peat flavour once you start getting into the the higher peat ranges...

Also, just as a heads-up for those wanting to try this, I have come across some very different reviews of the Supernova - some people have found it to be terrible (read JohnoftheYard's review for an example). I can't taste anything of the imbalances he is talking about, and JOTY isn't the only one. It makes me think that perhaps a dud bottling got out there somehow.

Still, a good malt, and something to throw at people who are really into peat monsters - very rarely leaves them disappointed.

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cintain commented

Thank you very much for a balanced review on this one... it seemed to me like it was a "hate it or hate it even more". I'm looking forward to trying it now.

11 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@cintain - it is a little controversial this one, but I found it very enjoyable and a good addition to the Ardbeg range. But I couldn't review it without mentioning that some people weren't so in to it...

11 years ago 0

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