I know more than a few of you have been waiting for this review. Sorry to keep you waiting, buoys and gulls. This simply is not a whisky that can be reviewed after a single sitting. Now…many moons later…I have cowered in the shadow of this beast on more than one occasion and feel a little more comfortable sharing my thoughts.
Conversations regarding the Supernova nearly always revolve around either the novel enormity of this phenolic explosion or the ongoing phenol war between this and Bruichladdich’s Octomore. Either way, it is a sad discredit to the inherent quality of this young and beastly Ardbeg.
A few months back my wife and I celebrated our six year anniversary. A great evening of getting tattooed, having dinner together and heading out of town for a night away was capped by curling up in front of the Lost with drinks in hand. Hers…fermented grapes. Mine…fermented barley. Though I don’t remember hers…I’m pretty certain she’ll never forget mine. It literally made the hair on her arms stand up and brought a tear to her eye. This was, of course, the SN2010.
So what is it that constitutes this dram which wields such tremendous fury?
The phenols at this level are absolutely blinding. This is a young Ardbeg with the volume cranked up to 11. We peat lovers have become somewhat jaded in recent years with a spate of enormously peated whiskies, but when you consciously step back and consider the contents of the green bottle in hand…well…it is hard not be bowled over. This is almost an abomination in the whisky world through its sheer enormity. Its sublime flavors are likely to be lost on the novice. Heed this…take your time with the SN2010. It will pay off.
As many of you know by now, I like to visualize these things. Humor me if you will. Ocean waves whipped to a frothy fury; savage and unstoppable winds tearing long coastal grass from its roots and blasting the remnants of peat embers hither and yon. …And no shelter to be seen.
It is sharp and jagged, developing from throbbing waves to a full blown tsunami within minutes of pouring. The peat and smoke are forefront (what else would you expect?), but fresh cracked pepper and chocolate are clear. Equal parts dirt and grass…salt and hard lemon…and tar. Typically Islay. Not a lot new, but here in brilliant proportion and numbing strength.
A mouthful of smoke and pepper. Oily and tar-like. Extremely salty anise and brine. Finally there are hints of wood. Only hints, mind. A nifty bitterness creeps in with the oak as well. This absolutely has to be the final drink of any evening. You simply won’t be able to taste anything after annihilating your tastebuds with the Supernova.
I hate to blast the critics here, but anyone saying that this is simply hype and not a good whisky…well…best spend a little more time with this, folks. Y’may not like it…but you are WRONG if you say it is not a good dram. There are better Ardbegs out there, but that is neither here nor there and makes this one no less relevant.
I can’t be certain (at least until I kick it and have to check in myself), but I believe this peaty bastard is actually used for stoking the fires of hell.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt