Ardbeg Supernova 2010

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Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 60.1% | Color: Pale Gold
Nose: 24 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 |Rating: 91

Review
Ah, yes! The old school Ardbegs from the great forgotten era of 2010. Back when peat monsters ruled and the world was getting it’s first taste of NAS whiskies.

Second in line after the inaugural 2009 release of the same name this one ups the ante with an extra 1.2% of alcohol.

What is an extra 1.2% you ask? Everything! Just ask my stinging taste buds!

Definitely a youngish whisky (7-9 years if you ask me) with everything cranked up to maximum. Peat levels of upwards of 100ppm (other Ardbegs measure around 50ppm) and a very high strength ABV of 60.1%

I remember having this when it first came out and being suitably blown away. I was young and naive, much like this spirit, and easily overwhelmed. Now it takes a touch more to impress. And I have to admit the spirit does it’s best!

This review is from bottle code L10 070 16:22 6ML

Nose: Reminds me of the Still Young. That same youngish malt with classic Ardbeggian aromas. I know the peat here is cranked up but it still comes across as understated. Sharp lime. Lemon sorbet. Vanilla. Green apples and pears. Honey crust. Sugarcane. Let it breathe and it becomes more sooty. But with an underlying sweetness to it. Now with more herbs. Some cardamom. An essay in balance.

Palate: Lots of black and white peppers. Prickly green chilies. Lemon. Sugarcane. Dry honey. Slightly bitter oak. Melon. Mint leaves. Quite savory belying the nose. Fires up the tastebuds that’s for sure! Made me salivate. But the spices dominate. Is the high strength trying to mask something? Seems like it.

Finish: Oily. Tobacco leaves. Limestone. The same spices. Touch of smoke.

This is a fine dram. Need to sit with it for a while as it evolves. As of this writing I have not had the 2009 version which I’ve heard is off-the-hook. I’d love to make a comparison.

Overall great nose and finish with the palate marginally behind.

Rating: 91

Ardbeg 17 Year Old

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Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 40% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 88

Review
They say love is illogical and fascination need not have a reason. I say they. I actually mean me. Early on in my journey as a malt nerd I decided that I would devote my irrational emotions to a little known distillery by the name of Ardbeg.

It started with the 10. Then the Uigi. The Corry was followed by the Alligator and I began getting hooked. Desire trumped logic and I flippantly decided that I would make it my life’s mission to acquire as many Ardbeg expressions as I humanly (read financially) could.

And, thus, for no reason other than personal satisfaction began my journey towards financial ruin. Of them all there was one which got my attention above all the rest. It was the 17 year old. I don’t know why. I proffer no explanation other than there was something mysteriously beautiful about it.

Given that it was getting increasingly rare on the ground I had a hard time finding one at a good price but somehow managed. Not wanting to crack my full 70cl open for a few nips I managed to procure a couple of minis for a tasting.

And so after lusting behind this malt for over four years I finally sat down and fulfilled my silly little love dream.

Nose: Very mild peat. When I say mild I mean it’s really mild. Delicate soot. Tangerines. Cured meats. Sweet fish oil (if there is such a thing). Apricots. Dehydrated berries. Pineapple. Iodine and eucalyptus. It gets sweeter over time with a cherry cola quality. It is quite possibly one of the mildest Ardbegs on the nose ever. After a while you could be forgiven for thinking it might actually be a Speysider. There’s none of the real Ardbeg aromas. It’s not bad but it seems like everything is bit subdued.

Palate: Mild. Cardboard. Sweet lemon. Fruits with a wisp of smoke. Very faint peppers. Touch of mint. The palate is once again on the softer side. Everything is held back a touch.

Finish: Disappears at first but then comes back well. Oily with hints of oak and fruit spearmint.

Jim Murray had a hand in crafting this expression and it was the first one to emerge from the distillery when it re-opened under Glenmorangie’s leadership. I think the intention was to re-introduce the distillery to a much much wider audience with flavors deemed palatable to the novice drinker.

I wish I had drunk this many years ago when it first came out. I would have liked it much better then. Today, while I still think this is a fine dram, I missed the robustness of the Ardbeg flavors that I am so used to.

But love is blind and I am happy that I was able to cross this one off the top of my list.

Rating: 88

Ardbeg Auriverdes

Ardbeg AuriVerdes
Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 49.9% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Review

It’s that time of the year again, folks! When emotions trump logic. When clear thinking is clouded. When, like crack addicts, we go insane for that one hit we have been waiting for since June 1 of last year.

I am, of course, talking about Ardbeg’s yearly Festival Release. This years’ must-have bottling is called the AuriVerdes.

‘Auri’ means gold and ‘Verdes’ means green. Which is basically to say there is gold liquid inside this green bottle. In Portugese. Not terribly creative I admit. It’s also the name of the Brazilian football team and, with the World Cup just around the corner, this is quite possibly a lawsuit in the making.

Let’s hope FIFA doesn’t bankrupt Ardbeg. How would we spend our hard earned cash on mediocre whiskies, otherwise?

This one has seen quite a different maturation process compared to other Ardbegs. The casks are American white oak ex-Bourbon barrels with normal Bourbon specification charring. Once in Scotland the heads were replaced with new American oak heads treated to a particular (and secret) toasting regime.

These re-worked barrels were then filled with spirit and ultimately blended together with Ardbeg from 1st and 2nd fill Bourbon barrels.

The idea was that the different wood elements would each lend their unique flavor profiles and create an entirely new flavor profile.

Did they succeed in a creating a unique flavored Ardbeg? Yes. Is it fantastic? Nope.

Nose: Very herbacious and heathery. Looking at the pale olive liquid in the glass one need not be surprised. The peat is subdued amid the vanilla butterscotch and stewed fruit. Some garam masala finds it’s way towards the end as well. The aromas are there but just not confident enough to create a lasting impression.

Palate: Quite thin and weak in my opinion. Very unlike an Ardbeg should be. Maybe they’re going for a newer audience that likes their whiskies unchallenging. Spicy spearmint with the same ashy greens as the nose. Maybe a chocolate pear in there too.

Finish: Medium with a touch of spice.

Had it at a tasting recently and a majority of Ardbeg fans in the room turned their noses up. As an avid anti-marketing whisky fan it pains me to see my favorite distillery riding on the back of it’s cult status and cool gimmicks instead of really focusing their blood and guts into making their whiskies the best in the world.

Which they were. And can still be.

Rating: 85