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Ardbeg Supernova

Average score from 9 reviews and 37 ratings 85

Ardbeg Supernova

Product details

  • Brand: Ardbeg
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 58.9%

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Ardbeg Supernova

Let this be said, im not a big Ardbeg fan. All this hype and malarky the distillery has been engaging in has really turned me off. These days Ardbeg have many expressions which i dont think are worth their stellar names let alone their lofty price tags. However, there are always exceptions, this is Supernova, the 2009 edition.

  • Nose: peat, smoke, oil, petrol, road tar, pungent stuff, black pepper, chili, dry earth, with time vanilla comes through some sweetness just creeping through the peat blast. With water surprisingly some heather honey is there, it also becomes slightly softer.

  • Pallet: it’s savoury, hickory sauce, bbq sauce HP sauce, it’s reminding me of all of them, pepper and chili again, through the development some fairly rich butterscotch comes through which is strange but lovely. Another fairly dominant note is smoked crispy bacon. With water it is slightly more balanced the sweetness comes through more and lasts better some vanilla as well.

  • Finish: peat smoke (of course), spicy and earthy, mouth-watering very very bitter chocolate great length. With water sweetness lasts into the finish, spice on the edge of the pallet, salty and again great length.

  • Mark neat – 9.0, with water 9.2

This is a superb whisky. Im not usually too partial for big peat monsters but this has complexity and beautiful balance. Its not easy to find this whisky, one measure cost me 40AUD. But after my last two exams of undergraduate it was just the ticket.


At first I was not a fan of Islay Scotch and was more of a Highland, especially Glenmorangie. But I am starting to appreciate Islay more and more.

Nose: So much is going on in this one. Powerful peat and earth. Espresso. Black Pepper and Chili.

Taste: Lots of smoke. Smooth tobacco flavour. The Espresso comes back with a hint of dark chocolate.

Finish: Long, deep, and never ending.


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.

@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...

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.


Nose - slight new-make spirit, but well-integrated with it. There's a huge number of Tequila-esque notes in here. Good Tequila though - Blue Agave, nothing less. Toffee crisp.

Palate - Huge. The peat attack is definitely not as aggressive as I'd expected, in fact it's rather well balanced and integrated with the rest of the palate (!). The big surprise here though is the absolutely huge fruitiness that explodes on the palate. It's tropical fruit, very zingy, tangy, fresh. Mango, Papaya, perhaps a touch of over-ripe Pineapple. The peat ducks and dives with the skill and deftness of a featherweight boxer.

Finish - The peat comes out to play again. A good deal of red chilli, the fruit from the palate recedes in favour of a barley and cocoa-rich finish. Some definite infulence here from the new French oak casks right at the end.

So much more than I was expecting. Scotch Whisky of the year, Jim?

Yep, I'd go with that.

The supernova is a bit polarising - some people think it is terrible (@johnoftheyard is amongst them), and others think it is very nicely balanced (mine tastes very smooth and balanced to me). It almost makes me wonder if there were two different batches of it.

I was personally assured by Davinia Small (UK Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg) that there aren't.

It's really strange, because I tasted a sample at whisky live, and really hated it - I think it's entirely possible that it's all down to what you've been tasting before...


I tried this on a recommendation at my favorite haunt, where it's not normally even on the menu. The nose is surprising light, but peaty. The body is extremely peaty, but not particularly strong.

There is a complex play of wood, peat, smoke, and perhaps nutty flavors that is very enjoyable and very easy to sip. The palate, again, is gentle and not as overwhelming as the peaty nose and body would suggest.

Compared to the Arbeg Uigeadail, for example, the taste is every bit as peaty and complex, but far lighter and far more enjoyable for sipping. It's a surprisingly sip-able scotch, and one I will definitely be ordering again.


Yeah, it is a smoky whisky. We get it. But is it really worth all the fuss? Not the best whisky in my book... just a nice whisky!


Age: 8yo

Strength: 58.9%

Nose: Sweet smokiness. Peat and heather. Syrup. With water, vanilla and damp forest aromas!

Body: Heavy.

Colour: Golden orange.

Palate: Thick, almost oily mouthfeel. Creamy. Earthy, peaty with smoky spice and honey-like sweetness. With water, more spiciness.

Finish: Tons of malt, beer-like. Peat and spice again. Intense. Goes on forever!


The Ardbeg Supernova is a complex and crackling explosion. The nose shows tar and nuts, but also honey and orange. Vinegar and pepper makes it more complex.

The body contains lot of peat. It is explosive, it crackles, once again with nuts, salt, and pepper.

The palate is long and once again complex. It feels warm and comfortable. So all in all the Ardbeg Supernova is the right stuff for a long, cold, and dark winter evening.

Hmm, an interesting role, a kind of policeman for the one and only world wide for everyone applicable whisky taste. Astonishing. But no needless flame wars here.

Even if I'm drinking malts now for more than 20 years it became my passion during the last 8 or 9 years. Since then my own collection growed and I've been able to taste maybe around 100 malts in private and at the spring and autumn tastings at a local dealer. Meanwhile I'm also one of the volunteering helpers behind the bars.

Don't worry, I don't write this to impress anybody, but only to make my personal - and that's the important fact - preferences understandable. I still like Speysides, for me especially the Glenfiddich 21y Havanna Reserve and the Glenrothes 1991 (here I would like to taste one of the older ones, but still had no chance). But my overall favorites are Islays in Cask Strength and without water. Don't know why, but for me very often adding water doesn't make it better - or as you told above - even worse. And yes, I've also got a Lagavulin 12y Cask Strength in my collection. I like it very much and it would get an almost similar rating. But it's still a different taste.

So, my only wish is, that everyone accepts that tastes are really personnel. There's no reason for a crusade against malts like the Ardbeg Supernova (by the way, I've also got the Uigeadail, which I even rate better than the Supernova; I've got to add all my tasting notes over the time here). It's very intense, yes, but I already had heavier ones.

Slàinte Mhath


You're missing my point on this I feel, It's irrelevant whether you like this whisky or not, the fact is more and more "big name" distilleries are abusing, yes abusing, their fans by churning out limited editions and therefore forcing collectors to part with their money.

I also have no problems with people liking this malt, what I'm saying is that there are no subtle flavours going on here, no back notes, no real finish of any character. Oh and incidentally some people drink meths doesn't make it a right.


I'm a fan of Ardbeg and I've tasted most of the range that is generally available and like to think I know a little bit about whisky and so I know this review may seem a bit controversial.

On the nose I'm totally blown away by the spirit with a huge hit of smoke and a feeling that someone has just stuck a handful of crushed black pepper up my nose, not a pleasant experience.

The first sip of any high strength whisky can take your breath away and this was no different, massive hits of smoke, black pepper and a nasty taste of dried chilli flakes.

With water nothing really changes, I added 25% then 50% and cleared my pallet but nothing could improve the flavour I'm afraid to say.

Sadly I feel this is a bit of a "look as what we can do" drink a sort of vindaloo for whisky and whilst I no doubt will receive some criticism and possibly some questions as to my gender I feel the harsh tone is justified as I don't think there is any excuse for this kind of nonsense, by all means make peaty drinks but not so overpowering as to render your senses dead in the water.

I have to agree with you. This isn't a whiskey you savor, it's a curiosity that you unravel. While I'm amazed by the pyrotechnical display of flavors (dry erase marker, peppers, endless peat, barbecue sauce, I could go on), it doesn't really amount to a sipping drink. It's a good bottle to talk about, and maybe everyone should try it once, but I would never buy it again or order it in a bar.

I don't think I'd rate it as low as you did, but having tasted the 2009 Supernova a few times now I partly agree. The huge peat and ABV do tend to numb the tongue and palate, and I think there is a tendency for some of the more delicate notes to be overwhelmed. I think I like the Rollercoaster a little more. Both are very young whiskies and I'm starting to think I like my Ardbeg to smooth out a little bit more.

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