Ardbeg previously released editions of Supernova in 2009 and 2010. At the time the Supernova played in the “how high can you go?” peat league but Bruichladdich’s Octomore line has essentially put an end to that competition. The significance of the Supernova—quite apart from silly stories about whisky going to space—lies mostly in the marketability of its name. It’s a bit like when movie studios run out of ideas and decide to just “reboot” old franchises that made a lot of money. This is not to say, of course, that Ardbeg doesn’t sell a lot of its other special releases too, but, in the US, at least, none of those are guaranteed to sell out double-quick and most don’t cross the $100 barrier. This Supernova, however, sold north of $150 in most markets and disappeared pretty quickly.
At the time that I first tasted it, back in September (at the same gathering that featured the Clynelish 17, Manager’s Dram), it was still around (in fact, had just showed up) and while I liked it, I didn’t think it was anything I’d pay $100 for, leave alone $150. Every Lagavulin 12 and Laphroaig 10 CS I’ve had, I thought, kicks this one’s ass up and down the street and they cost 1/2-1/3 of the Supernova’s price. I took a sample home and am interested to see if time (and a bit of air in the sample bottle; I have about 1.5 oz in a 2 oz bottle) have made this any better. Continue reading
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. Continue reading