Whisky Advocate

New Ardbeg “Supernova” is smokin’!

January 14th, 2009

The sky is the limit (pun intended).  Look out Bruichladdich, Ardbeg is flexing its peat smoke muscles too, with a soon-to-be released 100 ppm phenol Ardbeg called Supernova.

Word just got out on the Ardbeg website, but I wanted confirmation from my Ardbeg contact that the whisky will indeed be brought to the U.S. before posting anything. It will.

Here’s the link to the Ardbeg website, with details and a photo. Keep scrolling down past the other Ardbeg products until you get to Supernova.

There’s no mention of an age statement. I suspect it is fairly young. The price for Committee members is £65. I’m waiting on more details, which I will pass on to you as soon as I get them.

36 Responses to “New Ardbeg “Supernova” is smokin’!”

  1. kallaskander says:

    Hi John,

    seems the Octomore did not go down too well with the Ardbeg or better LVMH strategists.

    On the other hand considering the sad circumstances around Blasda (much too young, 40.0%, chill-filtered, price!!!) and considering the announcement that only the TEN and the Blasda should have made up the portfolio of Ardbeg for a while the Supernova very much seems like a peace offering for the Ardbeg maltheads. Especially as it follows the Blasda so soon.

    And a further golden opportunity to sell very young Ardbeg at a premium price without any considerations for age strength nor overall quality. It is enough to cry peat peat peat it seems.

    In that respect Supernova is Ardbegs Octomore.

  2. John, have you sampled this already? Is this going to be a Casks Strength bottling? Do you thinks it’s worth the money? – Obviously, a new Ardbeg provokes a lot of questions!!

    I thinks it is a nice move on Arbegs behalf to first released the Blasda, which had very little peat flavor to it, and then to send a very very peaty one into the world. Admittedly, I have not bought the Blasda (yet), because I think it’s a shame that it’s just at 40 percent…

  3. butephoto says:

    I reckon it might be 10yo in there. Hopefully it’s a lot better than the disappointing Octomore.

  4. John Hansell says:

    This is just in from Jonny McCormick, one of our regular writers for Malt Advocate and based out of Scotland:

    “There will be 600 US Ardbeg Committee bottles – unaged, cask strength 100ppm from stock distilled in 2000 and 2001. A number of US specialist retailers will be designated as Ardbeg Outposts and Committee members can buy or reserve them from there (they haven’t finalised the list yet). Likely to be out in the US by late Feb/March. The UK/Europe Committee bottling comes out 20th Jan and is limited to 2 bottles per person. However, a limited release of a distillery bottling of Ardbeg Supernova will come out in May and will be available everywhere but the US.”

    Thanks Jonny!

    Thomas, I haven’t tasted it yet. Soon, hopefully. When I do, I’ll share my thoughts with everyone.

  5. Jon W says:

    Wow! That ‘s great news about the US retailers! Please pass on the list of retailers when you can so I can act quickly! Will be nice to be able to get my hands on some of these without jumping through all of the hoops I did to get the Corryvreckan.

    Do you know if this is going to become a regular practice for Ardbeg Committee Bottlings? Is this some kind of a test run?

    Also, this isn’t entirely clear from your quote (or maybe I’mbeing thick), but can you confirm that there are going to be two releases of the Supernova: one throught the Arbeg Committee and one through retailers (everywhere but the US)?

  6. John Hansell says:

    Jon, if I get a list of retailers, I’ll pass it on. I don’t know if this is the beginning of Ardbeg whisky becoming available to US Committee members or not. Time will tell, but it’s a good start.

    My intepretation of Jonny’s note to me is the same way you described it above.

  7. Rich says:

    John, i’m finding conflicting information on various blogs, and i’m hoping you can clear up some confusion for me. when they talk about the 100 ppm Supernova (or the 131 ppm Octomore, for that matter), are they referring to the peated barley from which the spirit is distilled, or the finished, bottled spirit? in other words, did the Supernova start or end at 100 ppm?

  8. John Hansell says:

    I was assuming that it’s the ppm phenol content of the barley. Anyone else out there care to confirm or deny?

  9. rich says:

    yeah, that’s gotta be it. just did some more digging around, and found this: “The barley for Ardbeg is peated to 54 ppm of phenol and the final concentration in the new make is between 17 and 24, depending on the milling and mashing process.” apparently the Supernova starts with about twice the level of phenol in the barley as the Ardbeg standard, so logically we can expect about twice the concentration in the new make, and finished spirit, depending on the production and aging processes.

  10. B.J. Reed says:

    I am going to be surprised if this makes it the the States but John I assume your source is a good one…I may not take the chance and rather get it in the UK just to make sure.

  11. John Hansell says:

    BJ, click on the link in my posting. It goes right to the Ardbeg website where it states that the US is getting bottles. 600 isn’t a lot though.

  12. B.J. Reed says:

    I know it says that but I will still be surprised 🙂

    Based on the Corryvreckan experience I was very lucky to get a bottle and that was a release of like 4,000 – it was gone in a flash – once it gets to the states with only 600 bottles I wonder what that will retail for. That was a Committee bottling which made a difference but so is the Supernova.

    I am doing some checking with retailers in the UK to see what they think they might get as stocks –

    If it is like the Almost There then it may be plentiful or at least available..

  13. jules345 says:

    got a postcard from ardbeg through my door this morning it read…

    Wherever you are on the planet (and let’s face it, committe members are all over the place), gaze up at the stars and reflect on Ardbeg’s latest creation – Ardbeg Supernova. Peated to more than 100 parts per million, way above the peating levels of the acknowledged star of malt whisky, Ardbeg Ten Years Old, Supernova is a stellar expolsion of flavours, the peatiest Ardbeg ever and quite simply heavenly!

    Was it written in the starts that this dram should come to pass? No, it was writted by Jim Murray, author of his very own Whisky Bible, when he excalimed…


    There are just 3,000 pre launch Comittee bottles to go round over 50,000 members, so if you want one shooting across the skies to youm you’ll have to move like a rocket! Once tested, don’t forget to log your observations at

  14. John Hansell says:

    Thanks Jules. Good info.

  15. B.J. Reed says:

    Already sold out – next chance is May according to the website

  16. bgulien says:

    The 2400 bottles, designated for the world, except the US, were gone in 2 hours. So no sense in talking to UK retailers, because they don’t have any.
    Will not be surprised when the will appear on ebay though

  17. Rich says:

    agreed. unlike the Corryvreckan, which i was fortunate enough to get a bottle of, they allowed two per customer on the Supernova, which i did not get… yet. i’m not sure why they did that, given the ratio of bottles to members. in any case, i imagine most people bought two, in which case i expect a fairly high number of bottles to make their way to private resale and auction. in fact, there was already an auction this morning for a Supernova on eBay UK for twice the Ardbeg asking price, and even that is already gone! next step, i guess, is to eye the bottles coming to the US, which should disappear even faster, and to console myself in the meantime with my Corryvreckan. 😉

  18. John Hansell says:

    bgulien: Wow, that’s what I call demand! Two hours. And I suspect those 600 bottles coming to the US won’t be any easier to get. You’re probably gonna have to know someone to get a bottle of one of those.

  19. Sold out in two hours?

    I guess I must have been lucky then! I had the chance to check every 15 minutes since I live in Europe (same timezone as the distillery) and had an internet computer available.

    The Supernova went online around 9:30 am local time, as far as I can tell, which means 8:30 “distillery time”.

  20. McRill says:

    It went online 8:00 distillery time and was removed again about 9:55.
    I was up at 24:00 just to make sure they didn’t released it first thing on the 20:th.
    At 08:01 i was the lucky owner of 2 bottles of Supernova!
    The question is if the release in May will have the same 58,9%ABV or if it will be bottled at a lower percentage (llike Reinassance and the new TEN)? If not, then it’s just the lable that will be different.
    To all of you that didn’t get a bottle, don’t give up hope. I think it will come back online at a later stage when they shipped all the existing orders. Just like the Corry came back online 3 times during 5-6 months.
    The reason they allowed 2 bottles per member I think is that they didn’t want to handle the amount of orders they got (from members that wanted more than one bottle) when the Corry came out.

  21. Ben says:

    I´m glad i got one….and the second will be bought in may. I can wait…

    But on ebay Germany is an Buy now-offer 199 €. delivery in 4 weeks.

    it´s crazy-he is selling bottles which he doesn´t own already

  22. John Hansell says:

    First the tech stock bubble, then the housing bubble. Now, a Supernova bubble, perhaps? As long as it tastes good.

    Here’s what Bill Lumsden had to say about Supernova’s peating level when I talked to him yesterday:

    “In spite of the very heavy peating level (difficult to say exactly how much, as analysis techniques are less accurate at such high levels, and as I’m sure you know, there are several analytical techniques, one of which can artificially exaggerate the level), rendering it the peatiest Ardbeg ever, it will still exhibit the delicious balance of flavours for which Ardbeg is justly renowned in Islay circles.”

    I can’t wait to try this whisky!!

  23. Rich says:

    is anyone who got two bottles willing to share the joy with a kindred spirit…? (that would be yours truly.) /:)

    hey, a guy can always hope…

    “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.” — Blanche DuDois

  24. Rich says:

    o.k., the list of US vendors to receive the Supernova in February has just been released:

    i’ve already reserved a couple of bottles. call someone near you now to reserve a bottle of your own. 🙂

  25. gene x says:

    Just called one of the local places where it’s going to be sold that was listed on the website just now and they said they have no idea when they’ll be getting the Supernova in and he said he expected Mar/Apr timeframe although the website says February.

  26. John Hansell says:

    Guys, thanks for the update. We really appreciate it!

    Rich, your link pretty much make it clear where to get a bottle. They are, for the most part, the A list of specialty retaliers. No surprises there. Okay everone, now you know where to get your bottle. –John

  27. Yves says:

    Hi John, all

    Thanks John as always for this most interesting blog – in a class of its own by the quality of your posts John, and the richness of the replies you get.

    I’m always a bit puzzled (and I’d be rather annoyed if I were a really big fan of this distillery) by the fact that so few bottles are released while there certainly must be way more liquid available (I doubt the distillery would ever distil such a tiny, tiny batch – or that the initial spirit was put in so few decent casks – or that they already used the whisky for vatting/blending/trading and have so little left) and while there are so many self-confessed fans out there, most of whom are also duly registered by the distillery in their “Committee”…

    In short, it does feel like artificially created rarity. Not the best side of their marketing in my opinion. A shame for real fans of this whisky.

    Of course I may be wrong and unfairly blaming the people behind this. They’re welcome to comment in these pages I guess, John.

  28. John Hansell says:

    Yves, thank you for the kind words. I, too, am very impressed by the quality and thoughfulness of the responses. I think it’s great.

    We’ll have to see how the whole Supernova thing plays out. I should be getting a sample in a week or two and am eager to try it.

  29. Guy says:

    This is especially for any Ardbeg fans out there who still can’t find a bottle. One of the 2 Florida “Outposts” (retailers) who is designated to get some of the 600 is still taking orders.

    Contact Pete Izaguirre at Pantry Liquors, 12846 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33184 Tel:(305)552-7060
    No price info yet. I’m a newbie here so I hope it isn’t a no-no to post commerical info on the site, but I thought people might like to know there is still a chance to nail down a bottle. Tell Pete you heard it here!

  30. John Hansell says:

    Guy, I don’t normally allow commercial plugs, but considering the rarity of this whisky (and the demand), I let it go this time. Hopefully it will help someone to score a bottle.

  31. Guy says:

    Sorry! Won’t happen again. I don’t have a personal interest in it just trying to aid other seekers.

  32. John Hansell says:

    No worries. I’m sure you helped someone snag a bottle.

  33. Tom Borschel says:

    I just got my bottle today. This is incredible stuff. As much as I liked the “Almost There” and “Renaissance” this is at another level. The peat comes through in waves but beneath is creme brulee, walnuts, hints of apple and lemon…
    Simply astonishing. I hope LVMH makes this a part of the permanent line.

  34. Derek says:

    I think everyone tasted the Blasda expecting the usually high 50ppm peat flavor that comes with the rest of the Ardbeg range. Because the peat is cut down, it allows you experience the underlying Ardbeg qualities that you might normally not see in the rest of their range. If you can open your mind and put your ‘man-peat’ card down, I’m confident that you will really enjoy this fantastic single malt.

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