June 3, 2014

Battle of the Beasts Part 2: Ardbeg Supernova

Battle of the Beasts Continues

Last week we commenced an epic battle of our favorite beasties - big, smoky, powerhouses from Islay.  Today the contest continues with Contender #2: Ardbeg Supernova.


A limited release that first hit the market in 2009, and then came back by popular demand in 2010, Ardbeg Supernova was a phenomenon.  It showcased young, bold whisky in a way that opened many peoples eyes.  To date, the common wisdom had been that "older is better" - everyone wanted a twenty-five or thirty year scotch and anything under twelve years was déclassé.  The youth and power of this nine-year peat monster from Ardbeg opened up a "new world" view of young Islay scotch and paved the way for innovators like Bruichladdich and Kilchoman to explore wide ranges of fresh young peaty masterpieces.

SmokyBeast Tasting Notes

Nose:  Wow, it's a really incredible nose on this guy.  The smoke is very present, but it's so well integrated into the aroma that it doesn't come off as acrid or overpowering.  The main gist here is bee's wax with little hints of paprika pepper, cashews, and white chocolate.

Palate:  Mid-body on this, just oily enough to coat the tongue.  The palate is half parts perfume and saddle leather.  The smoke starts to rise up just as you swallow.

Finish:  It's a triumph: one of the smokiest malts we've ever had, but absolutely no burn and perfectly balanced.  The spirit, smoke, and age just nestle up with each other into a fruity, chocolately, woody, and smoky dream.  Perhaps a new favorite.  All the beauty of the Lagavulin, but with more finesse, a richer palate, and a lot more balance.  Top marks.

John Hansell of WhiskyAdvocate describes it quite well:

"If you go into this experience expecting to be totally blown away by peat, tar and smoke, you might feel a bit under-challenged initially. But the peat eventually builds to a powerful, lava-like crescendo and you eventually realize that this is no ordinary Ardbeg. The length of the finish is seemingly endless, bold and warming."
Guest Judge Comments

"Bright, grassy, sugars.  Herring and putty.  Cask Strength for sure."
"Nose- more floral. Open & inviting with smoke in the background, a bit sweeter (with onions??);  Palate- sea salt, caramel, honey glaze;  Finish- quick. Burst of heat but fades very fast.  Opening up, the sweetness is amped up and the smoke is brought out."
"Rich smoke & peat, a 10 out of 10!"
"Rubbery, coarse, and young."

Stay tuned for Contenders 3 and 4: Bruichladdich Octomore and Kilchoman Sherry Cask.  And then the finale where we reveal the winner of the Battle of the Beasts!


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