Ardbeg Supernova 2014

Ardbeg Supernova 2014

I had this dram bind as a part of a quite nice line-up of blind samples I had the chance to try two years ago. I spare you the rather long post about it, but if you want to read it all, here is the original reddit post. All I knew going in was that all these drams were rather special and that there were four Scotch whiskies, one Worldwhisky as well as one Bourbon, one Rye and one Wheater. I leave you with my original notes but I left out all of the guessing and in-between thoughts, if you want to read it all check out the reddit post I linked to above.Situation: A little nervous still but happily listen to Nils Lofgren playing his Acoustic Life album; feel free to imagine me smiling

Nose: Starts with a fruity touch of dark red grapes and plums (Sherry?!), then a mineral note followed by laid back (read as not very invasive or aggressive but just being there, aware of its power like a Rotweiler lazily eyeing you) smoke.

The nose says Sherry but the rather pale color indicates the opposite. Caramel, there is a bitter note one might call “hinting in the medicinal direction”, but for me it’s bitter. It’s fruity, earthy and has some sugary notes which remind me of cinnamon rolls.

Taste: Wow, I love it! At this point (after the first sip…) my brain is convinced that it’s Laphroaig. But let’s see if my Sherlock thoughts can talk me out of it. Boy, it’s good. Oh so good. Oh you want the details? Almost neutral to sweet entry but then it turns into a supernova [at this point I had no idea how fitting that thought was! Ha!] of tastes which at this point are hard to put in words beyond wow. The peppery abv bites, proudly laugh at my 46% suggestion and I would say this is 50%ish.

Wait, you still want to know about the palate? You’ll love the finish! OK, I’ll try my best to give you the palate first: like I said rather neutral tending to bourbon cask-ish sweet entry followed by an explosion of tastes/hints: plums/raisins, cinnamon and brown sugar, chocolate (more milk- then dark chocolate), very (very!) briny, a mellowed rotten fruits note, dark licorice, hints of oak.

Finish: The mocha/chocolate-y finish of well done cask strength drams (very chocolatey indeed!) combined with tingly, peppery abv sparks. Slowly drying along minimal peat and extending smoke create a velvet/creamy close to oily mouthfeel which is best summed up by “happy!”, slight hints of oaky tannin, it could be longer even though parts of it are quite long but the main bulk of flavors stays for a medium length

Conclusion: Wow, I love it! I want it. I would lay down serious money on this one. I fear I would have to. The dram hits all my sweet spots. Of course the perfect conditions play into this as well, but boy do I like it. It’s an Islay. […] The other reasonable option at this point would be Talisker based on the very present brine notes. The Laffy 25 had some Oloroso in its vatting, didn’t it? Ok, stop. Time for the Sherlock thinking hat. This is not 25 years old. No way. It doesn’t have serious oak/tannin notes that long time in a cask would bring. This is younger. And at 25 years it would be a lower abv, more in the 43-46% range I thought the nose pointed me to. But this one is Cask Strength, if there ever was doubt the finish erased that. This doesn’t taste old and it’s not a young Laphroaig. End of the discussion! Even though the nose lend me to believe that but this brings up a very interesting topic: expectations! Anyway, this is not the place to jibber about that but I think it’s the most underrated factor in reviewing. […]

[My guess back then was an old Talisker Distillers Edition…]

Score: 97/100

After reveal thoughts: Oh, wow. Damn. I feel I should have figured this one out. In retrospect, I was on the right path but was totally irritated by my initial Laphroaig nose guess, which lead up to some rather wrong expectations. Which again show how deeply perception and expectation are related. […]

Coming back to the expectations thing, after I lookedup some reviews here and there about the 2014 Supernova, everyone seemed to agree that it lacked a bit of depth and I instantly found myself to agree and saying oh, well, yeah it wasn’t that complex and deep. Bullshit! I liked it half an hour ago without its depth and complexity and that is still true now. But maybe that’s just my peasant tastebuds, however it shows how your (ok, at least my) perception is intertwined to what you know, expect and imagine about a dram…

Other Ardbeg reviews: here Our visit to the distillery: here

Other whiskies with the same score: here

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