Brand: Ardbeg Supernova 2010
Type: Single Malt Whisky
ABV: 60.1 %
Sample Received from Andrew in Australia. Thanks!
Colour: Pale Straw/Light Gold
Nose: The pleasant wave of nice Fat Earthy, Dusty, Grassy Peat smells familiar and reminds me of the 10 Years. The ABV of the Supernova is much higher of course and the Alcohol is noticeable. But once your Nose gets accustomed to the Peat a whole array of other Aromas present themselves in Waves. Take your time with this Single Malt because there is much more to it than the first impression would want you to believe. First of all there's lots of Black Pepper and Chili. But I also get Tar, Cigar Ashes, Rubber/PVC, Leather, Smoke, Wood Polish, Tobacco, Honey, Olive Oil, Buttered Toast and Salt. There's some young Oak as well and, in general, the Supernova has a young and savage feel to it like the 10 years. Much stronger though on account of the high ABV. Not too much Fruity tones here and when, than more dried than fresh. Some Green Apple perhaps and Citrus Peel. Finally some hints of Aniseed and Espresso.
Palate: Very strong delivery. The Peat is much stronger here than on the Nose. Very Hot & Spicy as well with Chili and Black Pepper. But in general the Palate follows the Nose with Cigar (Smoke and Ashes), Leather, Mint, Charred Wood, Aniseed, Grass/Straw, PVC, light Licorice, Citrus, Tobacco, Salt and Burnt Sugar.
Finish: Very Long, Sweet and Spicy at first but Dry towards the end. Lots of Black Pepper and Chili start the show followed by Sweet lingering Peat, Vanilla, Orange, Tar, Ashes, Leather, Dark Chocolate, Charred Oak, light Licorice, Aniseed and Espresso.
With a bit of Water the Nose does not change a lot but on the Palate the Alcohol retreats of course and Spice and Peat rule more freely. You can certainly experiment with a bit of Water but despite the high ABC I prefer to sip it neat.
Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 22
General Remarks: The Ardbeg (Little Height in Gaelic) Distillery is located on the South Coast of the Isle of Islay. The Distillery was founded in 1794 and commercial production started in 1815. It was closed between 1981 and 1989 after which it produced on a low scale until 1997 when it was bought by Glenmorangie Plc, part of the French LVMH Group. The Supernova was first released in 2009 but today we taste the 2010 Release that has a slightly higher ABV. The Peat Level is slightly over 100 ppm (phenols per million) compared to slightly over 50 ppm for the Ardbeg 10 and Laphroaig 10. We can therefore expect heavy Smoke and Peat! Prices started at around 130 US Dollars but quickly increased to up to 270 US Dollars.
Drinking Experience Neat: Very Good.
Conclusion: In the end I rated the Supernova 2010 just a tad higher than the 10 Years. The reason is quite easy. I like them both a lot. And yet, they are certainly different whiskies although the first impressions on the Nose are very similar. They both represent Islay in their own way however. To me, the 10 is the Sea with the Brine, the Salted Fish and the general Harbour feeling. The Supernova is less coastal and represents the Earthy Mud of the Peat Bogs seasoned by the Salty Rain. The Supernova is stronger but indeed very peated on the Palate. There, the 10 is bit more balanced in my opinion. Still, both are very good Islays. Not your every day drams perhaps but nearly unbeatable on one of those Cold, Rainy, Stormy Nights in front of the fireplace. Not that we have a lot of those in Sao Paulo of course. But I will gladly pretend!