Update! If you want to see our tasting notes click here.
Well the time has come for the final release of Ardbeg Supernova. The Supernova is advertised as the peatiest of whiskies. There is some debate over this however due to the Octomore expressions from Bruichladdich, some of which claim to have peat levels higher than 200ppm. However, being all whisky geeky I’d like to say that measuring peat levels is a tricky thing. Most distilleries measure the peat levels of the malted barley instead of the final spirit.So how much of the peat makes it through to the actual whisky is contested and highly variable.
There are also different methods of measuring peat in malt which can return very different results. So really it’s hard to say which is peatiest without taking the whiskies to a lab and running them through a barrage of tests. But all that aside, does it really matter? There are some who say that humans cannot differentiate peat levels beyond a certain ppm and that the doubling of ppm’s does not equate to a doubling of peaty experience on the palette. It is also well known that as whisky ages it loses peat concentration. Whisky Science has a good article on this.
So basically, some people really enjoy super peaty whiskies and a lot of those people are really into Ardbeg. For those people, the Supernova is a gift from the whisky gods. For the others, it’s an amusing expression.
Anyway enough of that pointless rambling. Now onto some hard info on this release. The Ardbeg Supernova 2015 was just recently released to Ardbeg Committee Members and commemorates the culmination of the Ardbeg space experiment.
For those who are not aware of this experiment, here is the basic info:
In 2011, Ardbeg was approached by a company called NanoRacks that design special capsules for use in microgravity experiments in space. They had the idea to send some samples of Ardbeg newmake with cask shavings to the International Space Station to see what effects microgravity had on whisky maturation. They had a control batch kept at the Ardbeg distillery. The space samples began “maturing” in January 2012 when astronauts mixed the spirit with the wood shavings. The samples returned to Earth on September 12th, 2014. Different laboratory tests were performed on the space samples and the control samples to see how they differed. The two sample sets were also tasted by Dr. Bill Lumsden to be assessed for flavour.
Yeah so thats the gist of it. If you want to read more there is a white paper published on this whole thing and they made a video about it. Also it’s kind of getting on my nerves that some people are spouting some very wrong information on the space whisky experiments. Like this guy. They sent an Ardbeg 10 into space? Why? Do you know what you are talking about? No.
If you are scientifically minded you might be thinking to yourself, “wow this sounds extremely unscientific”. Well yeah it is. It’s basically a big publicity stunt. But hey it’s a good one! Basically the guys at NanoRacks probably wanted free whisky and Ardbeg wanted to be the first “space whisky”. Note that they never actually made space whisky by the SWA rules since the samples did not mature for more than 3 years. Also they were not matured in a cask. So whatever.
Anyway, back to the whisky! There have been 4 releases of the Supernova including this one. These are the 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2015 release. This specific release was from malt peated to 100ppm. I do not know the bottle numbers yet but the 2014 had 3000 bottles. From what I’ve heard, Ardbeg stocks of this heavier peated whisky are quite limited and they are saving some for blending into their other expressions. So on one hand this release could be as limited as 2014 or if they perhaps pumped out a lot of 100ppm malt spirit three years ago then they may have been able to bottle quite a bit of this whisky. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Here’s a summary of what we know about the Ardbeg Supernova 2015:
Cask type: Unkown
Peat Level: 100ppm
Price: £125 (from Ardbeg Online)
So not a lot of info there but I’ll try to update this once I find out more.
If you want to know what this tastes like there are some reviews on it already:
We are hoping to get our hands on a sample. If/when we do, we will posted a review and add a link to it on this post.
It’s also interesting to note that while this expression was made available to Ardbeg Committee Members online on September 12th, a few shops in the USA started selling them a few days prior. I am waiting to see how much will be released later on to shops in Europe.