Friday 17 October 2014

Tasted #129 & #130: Ardbeg Supernova 2014 & Supernova 2009 (#101drams)

A few weeks ago we brought word of the upcoming release of Ardbeg Supernova 2014 in Australia, and gave a bit of a background to Supernova, from the original 2009 release through to 2014's release.

As mentioned, the good folk at Moet Hennessy Australia were kind enough to send a sample of the "SN2014" Supernova, and it's finally time to taste it.

Now, before I continue, I should point out that this isn't just any mini you can buy from a bottle shop, or even the distillery. As with the Gold Auriverdes bottling, these samples are primarily for media only, and are never for (official) sale. Which means, of course, in our current frenzied global whisky market, you have people making statements like:

Truly crazy. Of course this didn't interest me at all, because 1) Us bloggers are sent these whiskies to review, not to make a profit on, and 2) I actually really wanted to try the SN2014 (and to make it even more enticing, Supernova is a #101drams dram!)

So with that out of the way, let's get onto the tasting notes....

Ardbeg Supernova "SN2014" (55% ABV, NAS, Islay, Scotland, $240AUD)
Colour: Light, much lighter than I was expecting (call it a psychological thing, being a heavy, strong, peated whisky with a high ABV). Apple juice-like.

Nose: Rich and creamy, with citrus undertones - grapefruit most notably. A serious whisky, no doubt, but one with approachable, lighter elements in both the sweetness and citrus characteristics. Mind you this is all with a big whack of peat in the overshadowing the aforementioned notes.

Palate: The peat isn't as pronounced or "in your face" as the nose might suggest. The palate keeps the citrus notes and introduces rich, caramel notes with a hint of maple syrup. The peat lingers, but it's the citrus and sweet dessert-like notes that play the dominant role.

Finish: Long and lingering, with peat and interestingly, notes of breakfast cereal.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. After re-reading my notes, I realised it may come across as a tamer, lighter Ardbeg. It's not. It's still a peaty, 55% ABV beast of a dram, but manages to also be approachable and simultaneously peaty, sweet and citrusy. A one-trick pony it ain't.

If you've read reviews of the SN2014 from other bloggers, you may have noticed there's become a bit of a trend of destroying these bottles after tasting. I get it - keep them out of the hands of those who just want to profit, and keep them out of the hands of the counterfeiters who may fill them with Ardbeg 10yo (if you're lucky) and on-sell them. I get it, I do....but I won't be destroying my empty. Simply because it's a cool bottle, unique, rare, and I personally want to keep it in my Ardbeg collection (which though modest, is growing).

So that's that.

...but wait, there's more! </Tim Shaw>

I mentioned recently that I stumbled across the 2009 Supernova release at a bar here in Hong Kong, and while it wasn't cheap (no whisk(e)y in Hong Kong is, it wasn't as over the top as other drams I've seen, so I decided to dive in. Not too many of these bottles left...

Ardbeg Supernova "SN2009" (58.9% ABV, NAS, Islay, Scotland, Difficult to find these days)
Colour: Light gold.

Nose: Sooty, ashy smoke. I was instantly taken back to my old school camping days. Not so much the smell of a fresh campfire, but the next morning. This was interestingly mixed in with some raspberry notes!

Palate: Ashy smoke at first, but then, almost drastically, a change to sweet desserts. Ice cream, peacans and condensed milk (made me a little bit hungry it did). Delicious.

Finish: Not as long as I'd expected. The peat sticks around to the end, as does the sweet, almost sugary notes, but it doesn't seem to linger for as long as say,the Ardbeg Coryvreckan does.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 95/100. High score for a great whisky. Wish I first tried it when it was more readily available!



  1. I'm a little jealous you've tried not only the new Supernova but also the 2009! I have sadly not had the pleasure - and am tossing up whether or not to spend all my money on a bottle of the 2014 edition - or save half and just get a bottle of Uigedal!

    1. The Oogie is a pretty solid and reliable drop! The SN2014 was good, no doubt, but $200+ good? Depends on your perception I guess. :)