Yes, I realize I’m gonna get lambasted by the righteous for this review, but I really don’t give a shit. So be it. Those that want me to negate any positivity toward all whiskies that are NAS will be chomping at the bit to have their say here, so let’s get it out of the way early, before I explain my reasonings (no, not justifications): yes, I really like this whisky, and no, I do not support the philosophy or pricing behind it.
At one point Ardbeg was unquestionably my favorite distillery. In terms of consistently producing solid releases they’re definitely still at the top of the heap, but unfortunately it is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile a love like this with my own moral standings regarding whisky. Yes, I have such things as moral standings. I do still love Ardbeg. I love the island it is from (my home away from home); I love the people at the distillery (truly beautiful souls); I love the smells and tastes (celestial, in my humble opinion); and I do love the aesthetics and intangibles associated. Sometimes the ones we love most, though, have the power to hurt us deepest. Why Ardbeg insists on this path of non age-stated malts is beyond me.
But Supernova 2014 now…is it good? Yes, it’s actually very good. It was bound to be, wasn’t it? A few dissenters’ opininons aside, Ardbeg seems to be one of the few distilleries that actually seems to unite malt lovers, despite what would seemingly be a polarizing profile. It’s not hard to recognize the inherent quality in each subsequent release, irrespective of whether or not it’s to one’s personal tastes. Sometimes quality is objective. The fracture point comes between those who will swallow anything and everything Ardbeg markets (literally) irrespective of price, and those who recognize that the combined might of good malt + strong marketing and aesthetics = blank check pricing policies, and are turned off by that. Reflect back now. Can you recall a new Ardbeg release in the last 5 or 6 years that has hit the shelves at anything less than $120 or so? Not around here anyway. And that is with a fairly readily-acknowledged admission to ages of really not more than ±10 years. So, I guess the real question with Supernova 2014 is not whether or not it is good, but whether or not it is $200 good? And sadly, no. No, it’s not. Around $90 will get you a cask strength 15 year old Bowmore Laimrig, and that is a stunner in its own right. The math speaks for itself.
Ultimately Ardbeg sells, though. The market dictates prices. And Ardbeg will not be getting cheaper anytime soon. C’est la vie.
Nose: Extreme iodine. Lots of saltwater. Smoke and pepper. Green mint leaf candies. A little bit of cinnamon coming through. Ash and licorice. Evergreen. Coke and lime. This is huge stuff. The sherry influence makes this a lot mustier and damper than the razor sharp SN2010.
Palate: Wood smoke. A lot of salt licorice. Smoke…and more smoke. Citric tartness. Granny smith apple skins and clean oak shavings. Quite drying as it fades out. There’s more, but you don’t need more. Tangy, smoky, licorice-y. Awesome, really.
Thoughts: To be concise: a very good, very overpriced malt.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt