The Ardbog was Ardbeg’s special Feis Ile release for 2013. I can’t recall off the top of my head if Ardbeg had any other special releases last year—it’s hard to keep up with them. With Ardbeg’s latest noisy releases on the market now—the new Supernova just came out—it seems like as good a time as any to review this one (I’ve had the bottle open for a long time). It is a vatting of Ardbeg of different styles, particularly ex-bourbon and ex-manzanilla sherry and it is 10 years old. It originally retailed between $89 and $120 in the US—if you’re keeping count this means it went for 2x-3x the price of the regular 10 yo. It didn’t all go though—there’s still some available.
I’ll be curious to see, by the way, what the fate of the new Supernova will be in the US market. In addition to the Ardbog we still have plentry of the Alligator and Auriverdes on the shelves of liquor stores here. Ardbeg-mania doesn’t seem to be quite as well-established here as it is in the UK and Europe. The new Supernova is priced far higher than any of those were—the lowest report I’ve seen is $125 and the highest is close to $200. If I could find it at $125 I might think about it but that’s my limit. I did like the samples of the 2009 and 2010 that I reviewed a little while ago quite a bit but I don’t want to get too caught up in Ardbeg’s marketing frenzy. There’s plenty of other high quality peated malt out there.
Ardbeg Ardbog (52.1%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Mossy peat mixed in with caramel, raisins and toffee. Quite a bit of salt too and with a bit of time some dried tangerine peel. The smoke gets a bit inkier and there’s also some graphite and some wet earth. With a drop of water there’s some cream and a bit of vanilla and the toffee comes to the fore.
Palate: The smoke is to the fore here, a little more acrid (campfire), followed by the mossy peat and the salt. On the second sip the smoke is both more dense and more sharp and there’s a bit more sweetness. The sherry is less expressive here than on the nose and I’m not really getting much fruit. There is a kind of acidity but it’s more vinegary than citrussy. Okay with a couple of drops of water here’s the citrus (lemon). The smoke becomes less acrid as well.
Finish: Long. The smoke hangs around for a while getting saltier as it goes. Water seems to emphasize the salt even more.
Comments: Very nice nose; the palate is more jumbled with the smoke getting too sharp and too sour. Of course, this last may also be an artifact of the bottle having been open for a while. I preferred it with water. I have to say my opinion of this has fluctuated over the course of the bottle’s life. I was least impressed with it when it was first opened; closer to the middle I quite liked it; now that it’s close to the end I’m somewhere in between. On the whole, I much prefer the Uigeadail (though I grant I haven’t tried releases from recent years).
Rating: 85 points.