As I reported last week, both of the new, super peated Islay Scotches, Bruichladdich Octomore and Ardbeg Supernova, are now available in Southern California. These were the most highly peated whiskies ever released and they have been hard to come by, so if you are interested, grab them now. I quite enjoyed the Octomore. Now it's time for Supernova.
Whereas the Octomore stated that it was peated to precisely 131 parts per million of peat phenols, the Supernova is a bit more cagey, stating only that it is "in excess of 100 parts per million." This Ardbeg contains no age statement.
Ardbeg Supernova, 58.9% alcohol ($130).
The nose is sweet with smoke, but the smoke is not overwhelming. The first thing to hit the tongue is sweetness, followed immediately with a blast of smoke. The sweet and the smoke are intertwined throughout this whiskey, from start to finish; it's like a smoky candy - liquid smoke + simple syrup. Then, the smoke degrades a bit into bitterness and coal on the late palate/early finish. The final exhale, though, is pure smoke.
The consensus in the Scotch world is that between Octomore and Supernova, Ardbeg makes the better whisky. For my part, though, I have to say I preferred the Octomore. The sweetness is more reserved and the peat punch is bigger and more funky, in a good way. Octomore is a bolder whisky and comes together better on the palate, it presents the whole package in a more appealing way.
In the UK, Bruichladdich recently released the next edition of Octomore (version 2.1) which is up to 140 ppm. The peatiness will keep on coming, and I will be here to taste it.